I'm high strung. Like toy wound up too tight. Seriously. I jump when phones ring. I start when someone taps me on the shoulder. I was nearly arrested at a routine traffic stop because the police "could tell by looking at [me] that I was on amphetamines." I wasn't!
I was the timid kid (and adult) who never wanted to try anything new because it was scary.
And now I'm taking skydiving lessons. I'd passed my first AFF class a few weeks earlier. It scared me silly, but I passed.In prep for the second class I learned (and practiced) relaxation exercises. I was impressed with how calm they made me. I couldn't wait to try them on the plane...!
...but when I got on the plane, they didn't work.
. As the altimeter slowly dialed up, I had a new top five list of heinous things that I suddenly loathed:
- The sky
- The wind
- The noise the wind made
- Jumping out of airplanes
It wasn't like I'd never jumped out of a plane before. I knew the dive routine and simple parachute skills. I wasn't thinking stuff like "What if [this bad thing] happens!?"
You Big Baby!? I thought.. Why are you scared? You think that the Boogeyman is waiting for you out the door??
"Danger alert!" he croaked "Extreme vulnerability detected. I repeat, extreme vulnerability! Deliver an extra 50 cc's of stress hormone stat!"
Frog Brain really lost it when I left the plane.
Thus my usual "scream like a girl" exit.
And then I lost Frog Brain. I suddenly knew what I was doing: Arch (stable body position), check the altimeter, practice touches (the handle of the pilot chute**) turn right, stop, turn left. Hey, this was kinda fun. Whooohoo!
Frog Brain stayed away. I guess shortly after I fell off the "cliff" my situation was so alien that he couldn't find anything on his ancient "These Things are Bad" list.
In my original AFF jump the instructor activated the chute for me. I was determined to do it myself. What kind of skydiver can't even pull their own chute? I reached back, grabbed it the handle, threw it and...
WHUMP! I jerked upright. Hooray! I did it...!
...wait. Something was weird. Why wasn't it opening up?
I caught the problem. The lines were twisted. In class they'd taught us to untwist by grabbing the risers, spreading them and kicking in the opposite direction. It worked. The chute opened. Success!
As for the landing, that was a semi-success. At least it was a fun one.
As for Frog Brain, I'm still trying to figure out how to shut him up. He's a chump.
Click here to find out what happened when I tried AFF level 3...
*A good example of Frog Brain in action happens when you accidentally see a gruesome photo. You'll notice a jolt of shock before you're fully aware of what you're looking at. Before you think "Golly, it's a picture of [insert gory details here]," Frog Brain has sounded the alarm.
**The pilot chute is a cute mini parachute that you throw in the air to activate the main chute.