I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pushing myself to the limit

Packing area at Skydive Elsinore
As I mentioned last Sunday, I said I would be writing this post from my hotel room in Lake Elsinore, California. My laptop is the only light in the room, while Frankie, my roommate, is sleeping in the bed next to mine. The fan on the air conditioning unit is providing some white noise so she won't be disturbed by the sound of my fingers tapping the keyboard. I miss my regular situation with my partner, and my tea, but otherwise I'm pretty comfortable.

And tired. Yesterday I made four skydives with the Masters Skills Camp to help bring me up to speed for the record attempts we will make tomorrow, Monday. Actually, though, yesterday we already set a couple of records for women SOS (Skydivers Over Sixty), which I wrote about on my other blog. Here, I can talk about how I'm feeling, what I'm learning.

First of all, it's really wonderful to be in an environment of other skydivers from all over the world who are over sixty. It makes me realize that what I do is not THAT extreme, and that there are advantages to being older and wiser. Most of the people I've met are retired from their work careers and have either returned to an old flame (skydiving) or have taken up the sport at an advanced age. I credit tandem skydiving for the latter. Many people who overcome their fears by making a tandem jump realize that they are not too old to capture a dream and run with it. As one SOS woman said to me in an email, "I am 65 and it has finally sunk in, now with an urgency that both inspires and terrifies me, that I better do what makes me happy. Mortality does offer freedom does it not?"

Yes, it does indeed. I am reluctant to look ahead too far into the future, when my eyesight has failed (it's happening gradually but inexorably), my hearing has gone south, and my body will no longer take the pounding to which I subject it on a regular basis. I've got a couple of bruises and bangs from yesterday's jumps, a few sore muscles, but otherwise I feel confident that, unless something untoward happens, I will return home on Wednesday tired and happy. I didn't feel that confidence last Sunday when I was writing my post. I was afraid of the travel, thinking of all that could go wrong, and that perhaps I had become too rusty in my skydiving skills to do this. And I am definitely showing in the freefall videos that I have plenty of work to do in that department. But I'm doing it, and I will return to my home Drop Zone ready to go, all tuned up for the summer season.

There are many inspiring characters for me to hang out with. Yesterday I sat down between skydives and visited with John, a man from somewhere on the East Coast. He was on the record last year, so he is working with larger groups, making his jumps with 8 to 15 others. He was tired, too, and ready for the day to end so he could relax with a glass of wine. I felt the same way, but we both had one more skydive scheduled before we could call it a day. I caught up with him afterwards, while he was waiting for the dinner to be served. He said that the time change made it rather difficult for him to wait until 7:30pm to eat (it's three hours later for him), so he was having a snack of some gouda cheese, which he shared with me. He's a very interesting guy, and perhaps today I can find out what else he does with his life. I headed back to the hotel room, skipping the dinner.

My roommate is the other SOS woman who is seventy. She had just returned from a family vacation in Mexico, catching a plane from there directly to Los Angeles, renting a car and getting here late Friday night. Since she shipped her skydiving gear to Elsinore, she had very little baggage with her. If I ever do this again, I might do the same thing. It makes much more sense than wrestling with it through the airlines. I remember the days when traveling by air was luxurious, but not any more. A small carry-on bag is what I prefer to travel with, not a huge suitcase filled with skydiving gear, which of course must be checked through.

Although I am enjoying this adventure, I miss my partner at home, and I miss my daily routine. Next week when I write this post, it will be another cherished memory. Until then, I'll take it one day, one jump, and one step at a time. I hope that you too are enjoying your life and seizing the moment.


troutbirder said...

You are an inspiration to any outdoors person DJ

Star said...

My life is nowhere near as adventurous as yous D-Jan, but it suits me well. Today I had the company of my little grandson and we did some gardening. It was the first warm day of the year and the warmest day since the middle of last September. It is 16 degs C. That is a cause for celebration here in my camp.

Rian said...

It sounds like you're having a wonderful adventure there in California. Someone recently asked me if I was excited about my upcoming Alaskan Cruise and I told them that I seemed to be more anxious than excited (must be age?) But you are an inspiration for sure. Always wanted to sky dive (when I was young). Now I'd rather do it vicariously through you. Perhaps you could post videos??

Jackie said...

I am so happy you are there experiencing the wonderful moments that you shared with us on this blog and on your other blog. I "rest" with you as you type this, Jan. I feel the happiness that you do through reading your words.
As you prepare to return home, please know how happy I am for you....that you have accomplished this amazing feat and that you have met new friends who share your love of skydiving. I am in awe. Truly.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What an adventure..one you will be glad you have done when it is behind you Double check your chutes since your master cute packer is back at home! My adventure for the day..watching it snow and baking some cookies:)

Lorna said...

You at 70 are far stronger and more resilient than I am at 69. I admire you.

Linda Myers said...

I think this is the first post I've read where you say you're tired!

Sounds fabulous, though. I'm so glad you decided to say yes to this experience.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I'll be thinking of you tomorrow and seeing the group of you jumping into some formation. I haven't been over to see your other blog yet but will get there tomorrow--hopefully. And yes, life is good here because I'm filled with ideas for what to write and when. Ah, contentment. Peace.

Red said...

This sounds very challenging and great fun. We have to be nudged out of our routine fairly often. Keeping occupied with new things keeps us in the game.

Gigi said...

Your idea of seizing the moment and mine are so different - as mine found me sitting in the backyard enjoying the sun and a good book rather than flinging myself willingly out of a perfectly good airplane.

But know that you are in my thoughts and I can't wait to hear about all the records you break...and you will.

Teri said...

You are an inspiration, enjoy the experience.

Teri said...

You are an inspiration, enjoy the experience.

Anonymous said...

If that is what makes you happy, why not? Go for it, DJan!

Rita said...

Oh wow! Yes! do what you love while you can. Enjoy! Life is, indeed, short. :):)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...


Isabelle said...

Wow. I admire you (but have no desire to emulate you in that way...).

I've just read the post about your sons and was very touched indeed by it. You are a remarkable person.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I think you do so much to get to your very best place in life. Great that you have such super support.
I'm hoping to be back on line a bit more now that te move id behind me. I missed reading your great posts.