|Me under my beautiful canopy|
Several times this week I have turned the wrong way to head into the bathroom, or reached for the wrong drawer in which to take out a piece of silverware. You see, our new apartment is exactly the same as our old one (in the same complex), but it's mirror image. Everything is backwards from the way I have become accustomed to it. After almost five years of habit, I am reminded of how much of my life is usually on autopilot. I don't think about where things are supposed to be; my mind is on other things. And when I open a drawer and realize it's the wrong one, I am brought back to the present.
Over the more than twenty years I have been jumping, I've developed several habits that I should examine. I carry a small suitcase with all my skydiving gear in it to the Drop Zone, and I know that everything I need will be in there. My rig (parachute harness and container system) is as familiar to me as my own skin; I've been using the same rig for twelve years now, with only the main parachute being changed several times. It should last me for the rest of my skydiving career.
When I am packing my main after a jump, there are several things that need to be done correctly in order to have the next canopy ride be perfect: I must stow the brakes, un-collapse the slider, and cock the pilot chute (that small thing following behind the canopy). I cannot tell you how many times I have obsessed over those details while riding up to altitude in the plane. It's because of the power of habit: did I REALLY do what I thought I did? If any of those three things were missed because I hurried or wasn't paying close attention, I could really get hurt. Or worse.
What I have done to keep that from happening is to accomplish those three tasks and then look at the parachute lying there ready to be folded up and say it out loud: "Brakes stowed, slider open, pilot chute cocked." Then I can let it go. It takes me about twenty minutes to complete the entire job of packing before I'm ready to go again. Yesterday, my friends stayed after I left and probably made another three skydives before heading home, but I know my limits. I was already tired after four jumps and would have been way too tired to make the 75-mile drive home safely if I had stayed.
At home, I am finding that the process of living in a mirror image of my old habits has been a good wake-up call. It's easy to fall into the same habits I had before without thinking, if everything is exactly the same. Now I have the option of change, of examining what I do and assessing its relevance to my life today. Several things have been altered already, and I suspect there will be much more.
Smart Guy is not one who goes through an unexamined life. His perfectly functioning kitchen is arranged for frequency of access, and many things were pitched when he realized he didn't use them any more. Items used occasionally are tucked away in the back of cabinets. It is amazing to me to see him in action, and I don't interfere with the process. We discussed the mirror image concept and he made some changes that made sense to both of us. It's like being in a better version of our lives, and I am content to have him make these decisions.
We finally have a place for me to set up a meditation area, which I fully intend to begin again. It's been years since I was a daily meditator, but it's been on my radar to get back into the habit. Strangely, the ability to meditate has never left me, and those few times I have meditated have reassured me that it will simply be added into my life, once it becomes a habit. The power of habit will take me to a more serene life.
The incessant sunshine that we have enjoyed here in the Pacific Northwest is gone today. As I sit in my bed with my laptop, facing north instead of south, I can see out the window that the sky is grey and cloudy for the first time in weeks. It is a welcome change. Everything is falling into place as we begin our journey into another season. I hope that life today is satisfying to you, my dear reader.