|Me after a skydive in the mid-1990s|
In this part of the country, skydiving is seasonal at best. Today is the first day so far this year when I might actually be able to do it. I just checked the weather in Snohomish: clear and cold, with the possibility of a beautiful sunny day ahead. Although it's only an hour and a half away, the weather there can be completely different than here in Bellingham. We have lots of little micro-climates in the Pacific Northwest. It's a beautiful place to live, but planning anything outdoors in March is a dubious proposition. Or April through June, for that matter.
I am filled with trepidation, because it's been long enough for me to wonder about the wisdom of my chosen avocation. Once upon a time, after that picture was taken, I became an instructor and made hundreds of skydives every year. I couldn't wait to get to the Drop Zone and begin my day. I would return home after a weekend of making anywhere from six to ten skydives. If they were good ones, my level of satisfaction was huge, both being able to help others to learn, and having spent so much of my time in the process of skydiving.
But that was then. This is now. There is a certain hubris in believing that everything stays the same from one year to the next. This is dangerous thinking, since time has a way of bringing imperceptible change to everything, including knees, health, and flexibility. I work hard at staying fit, but one can only do so much. So now as I sit here, early on a Sunday morning, I'm thinking about the upcoming skydiving season, and today.
For the past couple of years, I've thought about quitting, and I even decided that once I reached the grand old age of seventy, it would be time. But now I'm seventy and I cannot quite face the idea of never again getting my knees in the breeze. There's something incredibly powerful about the idea of skydiving. I just now looked back to last year (one of the great benefits of a blog) and found the post I wrote after my first jump of the season in 2012. I read it again and realized I would most likely feel just the same today as I did then. My health and fitness level have not changed significantly in the past year.
But then again, that was then, this is now. I cannot rest on my laurels without the possibility of considering that it would be a completely different experience today. At some point in the future, and the not-too-distant one at that, I must make that decision. I notice that I get something of the same feeling every Thursday when I get ready to go on a ten-mile hike with the Senior Trailblazers. Although it's not in the same ballpark as skydiving, perhaps, I still make a decision to push myself and possibly get injured in some way. If I break a leg out there in the wilderness, it would be quite a feat to get myself back to safety. I think about that, too, as we are all in our late sixties and seventies.
The reward for doing these activities is tremendous. I have recently begun a new class at the Y, something called "Aqua Boot Camp," a 45-minute-long activity of going all out in the pool. I've done it four times now, and the first time I didn't hold back at all. By the time I dragged myself out of the pool, I could barely walk. But after a shower and a bit of a rest, I walked out of the gym feeling better than I had in ages. I've learned how to pace myself and take a breather if I need it, with the goal next week of making it a bit longer before I reach that state next time.
Okay, news flash. I just had a flurry of text messages with my family in Texas. My sister PJ has had a heart attack and is in ICU. Norma Jean has made the decision to fly there to see her, and I am now standing by to see if I need to do anything as well. It's PJ's birthday tomorrow. I am feeling all up in the air and will not be going anywhere today, it seems, just in case the worst happens. How quickly everything can change. Just another reminder that I must take each day as it comes, hoping for the best.
Until next time, stay safe and healthy. I will be putting any updates on my other blog (a link is on the sidebar). Otherwise, I'll be visiting you here next week, which happens to be Easter Sunday.