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, October 2, 2011

October sunrise

This sunrise picture was taken from my front porch last Friday, so it wasn't exactly an October sunrise, since it was taken the last day of September. Close enough. I remembered that old phrase about "red sky at morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors delight." I went to Google to find out where that phrase came from and found many sources, one even from the Bible (Matthew 16:2-3). It is an interesting read. A quote from that link:
If the morning skies are red, it is because clear skies to the east permit the sun to light the undersides of moisture-bearing clouds coming in from the west. Conversely, in order to see red clouds in the evening, sunlight must have a clear path from the west in order to illuminate moisture-bearing clouds moving off to the east.
This past week has been filled with introspection, probably because of the change in seasons and the constant monitoring of the weekend weather to decide if I can get another day of skydiving in before the weather closes that avenue until spring. In Boulder, I could jump all year round, but here, it is entirely seasonal because of the low clouds and rain that accompany us during the fall and winter months. I really don't mind. If I still lived in Boulder, I would probably make many more jumps but be unable to extricate myself long enough to find out what other activities I might want to explore.

I am much more active since I moved to Bellingham and discovered my hiking group. Last Thursday we had an absolutely beautiful blue-sky day. We went to the Baker Lake area to climb up to a lookout cabin in order to take in the glorious 360-degree views. When we were there two weeks ago, the area was socked in with fog and rain.

Before I began jumping in late 1990, I was an avid backcountry skier and climbed many of the fourteeners in Colorado. All that fell by the wayside once I discovered the thrill of skydiving. The friends I had known for decades grew weary of me telling them about it and gradually I only hung out with fellow skydivers. It's that kind of sport for many -- not everybody, though. I would wake up on a weekend morning and dash to the window to see if it looked at all possible to skydive. I'd jump in my car and drive fifty minutes to the Drop Zone if there was any possibility at all, since I was afraid my friends would be there having the time of their life, and I would be missing out!

But my Smart Guy once told me that it's not possible to have a hundred jumps forever, if you keep skydiving. And he is right. With more than four thousand now, the thrill I had back then is gone, but the habit and excitement of the familiar feeling of freefall keep me coming back. I also enjoy the friends I've made at the Snohomish Drop Zone and look forward to the feeling of simple play I have when I'm with them.

There is no natural physical cutoff time to stop skydiving. It's more a sense of when your body no longer can do all that packing and hanging on the outside of airplanes and flying your canopy to the ground once you open it. I have an acquaintance in California who I've jumped with over the years who is turning eighty next month. He plans to attempt to make eighty jumps that day, with the help of a whole bunch of friends, two airplanes, and lots of support staff. But he's in incredible shape and jumps in California year round. I don't have any desire to try such a thing, since my focus is turning away from skydiving into the next phase of life.

The same day that I took that picture, I happened to run into at least six different people on the street who I have met in various ways here in Bellingham. As I was walking back to the bus to head home, a feeling of belonging right here, right now, caused my heart to swell with happiness. This is where I was headed when I left Boulder, looking for a new home. I've found it, and everything is in its proper place.


Teresa Evangeline said...

What a wonderful life you've created for yourself. It's inspiring to me, and I thank you.

CiCi said...

Contentment. Happiness.

So many people associate their happiness and success with their job and when they retire they are lost. Good for you to find interests in your new life and be active and social. It seems to agree with you.

Linda Reeder said...

That's one glorious sunrise!. Sort of symbolic of the sunrise of your new life in Bellingham that you write about.
You have done an amazing job of making a new life for yourself, but then you are an amazing person.

Dee said...

I don't know, DJan, what led you to leave Boulder and move to Billingham, but I am so glad for you that you've settled into a new life. At the end of your posting, you said that you experienced "a feeling of belonging right here, right now." That feeling caused your heart "to swell with happiness." How wonderful that is.

I say that as someone who moved from Minnesota to Missouri 2 years and four months ago and have had a different experience. Because I trust the Universe, I trust that being "right here, right now" is good for me. But the thought of staying here makes me sometimes weep within myself. It feels as if I'm ending my life "with a whimper, not a bang" as the poet T. S. Eliot would say.

Unlike you, I'm not a joiner and so I've met few people. If I am to stay here, I need to follow your lead and get out of the house and make friends. You've shown the way. Now I must embrace it.

I'm 75 now and you spoke of your 80-year-old skydiver friend. I need to emulate his energy and enthusiasm and zest for life.

Thank you for this posting which is prodding me to make some changes in my life.


Grandmother Mary said...

Your life is full and rich. You made it so. Kudos to you. Your reward is that feeling 0f belonging and happiness you described. Nicely done.

Linda said...

You should write a book about how you made this new life for yourself. I guess that's not possible however because I don't know how you'd work the time in to write it. You are amazing and I'm encouraged everytime I read one of your posts.

gigihawaii said...

hmmm. DJan, blogger would not allow me to post a comment when I tried OPEN ID or clicked on Wordpress. But with NAME/URL I can. Here's my comment:

I am so happy you have found your niche in life. I traveled solo around the world for 7 years, but now believe it would have been a happier and safer journey if I had been married to David. Having friends is great, but having a significant other to come home to is even better!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

You made an excellent choice in Bellingham; it offers so many things that support your lifestyle. But getting out and doing, and making friends along the way...that's all you. As others have said, you are a great example to the rest of us. And feeling happy and at home is a fitting reward.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful sunrise. You always impress me with your energy but I am also impressed with your 80 year old friend. I am thinking I will be lucky to make 80 in an upright position and he is attempting 80 jumps in one day. Mercy.
Arkansas Patti

Rubye Jack said...

Such a beautiful sunset DJan. Now I am wondering why you left Boulder and so need to take a look at your previous posts. Both places seem quite similar, but I've known the feeling you're having today and hope to get it back one of these days. Place really can make a difference in how we feel and what we do.

Gigi said...

Yes, I'd say you are in the right place - both in location and mindset. And you deserve it.

Friko said...

I find it interesting that you say "my focus is turning away from skydiving into the next phase of life."

That surely means that you plan your life. It is not skydiving which is giving you up but the other way round. You are thinking of the next phase of life before this one is finished. I tend to let life push me into a new direction, rather than decide myself.

No wonder your achievements after retirement are as magnificent as they are.

Whitney Lee said...

What a wonderful post, full of contentment and belonging. That sense of being right where you are supposed to be and being happy with that is heartwarming. It seems to be what so many of us aspire to find. I have wondered what I would do if something were to happen to me and my husband as this is really his town-he was born and raised here and seems to know half the population. Honestly, though, in the last few years I've made it more my own. Part of that is due to my children but part is his insistence from the beginning of our relationship that we each have our own lives and friends and hobbies outside of our marriage. It's obvious that you and Smart Guy have the same thing as he doesn't accompany you on all your adventures but I imagine he also doesn't sit at home ceasing to exist until you walk back in the door.
Pardon me if this seems to ramble on...my head feels stuffed with cotton today so I don't know how well my thoughts are translating:)


Incredible sunrise. So happy you "caught" it for us to share.

Red said...

Great that you have found contentment in so many areas of your life. The move has widened your opportunities to do other things and connect with different kinds of people.
Great sunrise shot.

wendyytb said...

You are such a role model, DJan! You absolutely inspire me!

Sandi said...

I love the sunrise! I wish I had that view from my porch! Often I do have a beautiful sunrise view when I am driving home from the pool, though I never think to bring my camera. Last week I took a picture with my phone, but I doubt if it is a good one . . . besides, there are goofy power lines in my photo!!

Your posts sound so satisfied and content with your life. Whether I read of your latest hiking adventure, or sky diving escapade, you are happy and doing what your heart desires. Good for you!

Rita said...

OMGosh! What a sunrise!!! Gorgeous! Mystical!

Sounds like it was a good move and you feel like you belong in the new town now. That's a wonderful feeling. Also sounds like you have always been a woman who follows her passion, whether it's skiing, skydiving, hiking, or swimming, and when you love something you just go for it! Maybe you are getting restless for your next love? A new passion to envelop you? There are so many to pick from! Don't change, lady! Keep following your bliss wherever it leads you! :):)

CrazyCris said...

Sounds like your life has come together "just right" in Bellingham DJan! I hope you continue to enjoy it (and your varied activities) for many years to come! :o)

Linda Myers said...

Good for you and good for Bellingham!

Jenny Woolf said...

Do you ever skydive at night? I'm imaginign falling through that beautiful sunset....

June said...

Hi, DJan!
Bellingham....the home of an insurance company I worked for in my 20s...!

"It's more a sense of when your body no longer can do all that packing and hanging on the outside of airplanes and flying your canopy to the ground once you open it."
I'm pretty sure my body, or maybe my mind, would never be capable of any of that.

I'm very flattered by your comment at my place. Thank you for coming by!

June said...

Thought about it. Not Bellingham for the insurance company.

Stella Jones said...

That picture is gorgeous. I love red skies. I don't understand you love of jumping and exercising but I certainly do like to hear you talking about it, LOL

John Myste said...

Wow! 4000 jumps. I have 19 and I have not jumped in more than a decade. I had a slight accident of my own making, but that did not stop me. I kept jumping. I then got really busy at work and was going to have to repeat jumps and that stopped me. At the time, I needed 26 jumps for the puniest license.

I would never jump a chute I packed (I did not own my own).

It is really hard to pack a chute.

Anyway, that is not why I commented.

I have never seen a scene like that "sunrise." How did you come about that? What time did you take that picture? It is ominous and breathtaking and now saved to my computer.