|Sandra, Hollis, Dana, Frankie, me, Louise: SOS record holders|
I agonized over the decision about whether or not to get my skydiving gear in date and get ready for another season. Last April I went to a Skills Camp in southern California at Lake Elsinore, and last October I attended a record attempt for Jumpers Over Seventy in the same place. I met so many wonderful people at both of those events that I decided to go ahead and attend this year, once again. Although the majority of the people at this event will stay for the SOS record attempt (Skydivers Over Sixty), I will only attend the camp to get myself current for the much-smaller Women's SOS record. Last year six of us set a record, and this year I'm looking forward to being with my peers once again.
It's the only reason I'm going, actually. I've really enjoyed my years of skydiving, and I know that I have had more than my share of thrills and chills in the sport. I thought I would quit when I turned seventy, and then I attended that event last year and had so much fun and learned a great deal. I made fifteen skydives there last year, and made another forty at Skydive Snohomish over the summer season. I was happy to hang up my gear for the fall and winter and wondered if I'd ever use it again. For the first time in 22 years, I let my gear go out of date over the winter. (This means that the reserve parachute has not been inspected and repacked by a certified rigger.) I'll rectify that on March 8th, when I will attend Safety Day at Skydive Snohomish. I'll take my gear there and leave it so that it can be in date when I fly to southern California in early April.
I am truly ambivalent. So much has happened in my life during the past year, and skydiving has occupied only a small, peripheral part of it. There was a time when my weeks and months revolved around the weekends when I could skydive, but that's a long time ago now. It's been more than six years since I stopped teaching it, and I can hardly imagine that person who I was then, who looked forward to teaching a dozen people at Saturday's First Jump Course and then taking some of them out for a skydive. Who thought nothing of making twelve to fifteen skydives in a weekend! Who would return to work on Monday morning feeling well satisfied and just a little tired.
Yes, we all slow down, and our values change. I've gone on many wonderful hikes during the past year with people who have become dear friends. I've got the pictures to prove it, and we continue to enjoy the outdoors and each other's company. I lost one of my siblings this month, and I gathered with my remaining family to celebrate her life. Some of those people whom I hike with are dealing with health issues of their own, and they come and go from one week to the next. Amy is dealing with vertigo and announced that she will not be hiking with us until she gets better, although what is causing it is still unknown. I will miss her, but I know that there is the possibility of her return, and that makes me happy. That's not the case with PJ: since she was not part of my everyday life, I forget now and then that she is gone. And then I'll think of the last few weeks and remember anew.
As one of my blogging friends reminded me, grief is a process. Sharing my loss is part of what helps me heal, as I realize that it also is what I am beginning to do with my skydiving career. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would still be jumping in my seventies, I would not have believed it. I am trying to let it go before I end up getting hurt. And then I'd be required to stop and not by my own choice, but by having held on too long and not having listened to my own inner wisdom.
Spring is right around the corner now. It's the end of February and next Saturday, the first day of March, I'll attend a play with my friend Judy. The next day will be the Oscars, and I'll enjoy watching and admiring the gowns, hoping that my favorites will take home the statue. The following Saturday is Safety Day at Snohomish, and in early April I'll fly to southern California. The above picture reminds me that it's also WARM there, and I should come back with a bit of California sunshine on my cheeks. Not to mention many memories to cherish. It's a bit different now that I really do think it's my last season, so I'll be hugging my friends and savoring every last little drop of their presence.
Re-reading all this and thinking about how my plans are laid out for the near future, I realize that is all they are: just plans. And we all know about the best-laid plans, right? The quote is from an old Scots poem by Robert Burns: "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," text from the poem To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with a Plough. I enjoyed reading the entire poem when I went looking for some information about it. That's where the link takes you.
And then again, sometimes our plans come to fruition and we look back with joy and happiness at them, glad we made the leap. Well, in my case anyway, I would be leaping from an airplane. Here's to another wonderful spring and summer ahead! (Lifting my cup of tea and offering a toast to the possibility.)