|Me coming in for a landing|
What has brought this on? As those of you who follow me on a regular basis, you know that it's been coming for awhile, but this week I reached the final straw when I learned that the place I love to skydive in Snohomish is phasing out their second student landing area and will require all skydivers, experienced and newbies, to land in the same place: at the airport, which is tight and surrounded by obstacles. I'm not all that great under canopy, and it's been fairly easy to be safe if I knew everybody under canopy with me and I could anticipate their movements. That will not be the situation for the remainder of this season, so I decided to stop jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.
In a way, it's a relief not to try to stay current as I move farther and farther away from the sport. I am quite aware that my body in general is less robust than it was and recovers from injuries much less quickly than it did even five years ago. I want to keep hiking and walking for as long as I can, and part of my plan is to minimize risk. All the serious injuries I've incurred during the past 25 years have been while landing my parachute.
|Kevin and me (standing), Cindy, Dave and Linny July 2011|
When I made the decision, it didn't come as a big wrench in my psyche, and I was afraid that it would be tough to do. It wasn't. It is time, and I guess I've known that ever since I made my one and only skydive this year, in February, and sprained my back while packing up my parachute. Although the skydive itself was a good one, I no longer have anyone to pack for me (my packer for the past two years has moved on) and so there you go.
It's sometimes hard for me to fathom how much this sport has changed my life. I was 47 when I made my first tandem jump, and for many years afterwards I couldn't help myself: I was out at the Drop Zone every single minute of every weekend. I spent my holidays visiting other places where I could jump with large groups of people, and I met my life partner through skydiving. He stopped jumping a few years ago, but I wasn't quite ready then. In January of this year, the Bellingham Herald published an article about my last year's record jump, which you can still read here. I've been on formations of more than a hundred, and I've taught more than a thousand students how to skydive. It's all good, but nothing lasts forever. Like I said, it's the end of an era. I'm ready to move on.
And now I wonder, to what? I love my life here in Bellingham, the garden, the friends I've made, and the routine I've developed in my day-to-day life. I've thought about buying myself a really good bicycle and taking that up, but there's not a lot of enthusiasm behind that idea. I'll think of something, and until that happens, there's no big gap in my enjoyment anyway. I enjoy writing, and the internet has given me a good outlet in these blogs I maintain, so there's no lack there. Sometimes I think about writing a book and self-publishing it, but there's not a whole lot of enthusiasm behind that, either.
The world has changed so much in the past decade that some of the long-term plans I made no longer seem relevant. I have gadgets galore and enjoy them tremendously. They open up my horizons and give me a chance to engage with the larger world in ways I couldn't have imagined at the turn of the century. Perhaps a light bulb will go off over my head and I'll move in some unexpected direction that eludes me right now. That sort of thing happens to me more often than not. That's how I got started skydiving, for example.
I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: the internet world of virtual friends I have fills me with so much gratitude and enjoyment that I cannot imagine being without you all. I follow enough blogs to see how other people all over the world live their day-to-day lives. I commiserate with you over your dilemmas and celebrate the birth of a new grandchild (most of you are close to my age, after all), and I am content. Until next week, then, be well and I hope that all good things come your way.