A friend asked me if I would skydive with her and I said no.
She was considering a skydive because she’d been advised by someone to have new, exhilarating experiences that would push the trauma she’d experienced in her life back further in her emotional filing cabinet. I understood it to be a strategy to add insulation to herself, layers of new feelings that could reduce the oppression of her current feeling, her intense grief.
Her invite was an offhand one, not serious, so my saying no could be taken the same way, a flippant request, a flippant response. But I would have said no under any circumstances. Not because I think skydiving is unsafe – thousands of people parachute to earth every day – or because I am afraid of dying – which does happen with skydiving albeit rarely – I said no because I couldn’t see myself standing at the door of the plane, the big earth below, and taking the step into air. That single step.
In my mind’s eye, I could see the tips of my shoes extending just beyond the metal of the doorway, feel the gear on my back, the straps on my legs, and hear the shouted encouragement of the skydive coach. And I could feel my body freezing at that step and knew I wouldn’t have been able to overcome my fear.
I want to be a skydiving person but I’m not. At least not yet. But maybe if I needed to jump out of a plane with a parachute in order to escape immense grief, I could become a skydiving person. Maybe it would make me feel free and light. And suspended from everything. Fearless. It’s something to think about.