More than twenty years ago, about a year after arriving in Texas, I allowed myself to be talked into a revolutionary cure for acrophobia. I was twenty-six and, for the very first time, I yielded to peer pressure. I didn't like being afraid of anything and was naively convinced I was bullet-proof and immortal. That is how I came to throw myself out of an airplane.
Air travel is not something I was fearful of. Not then anyway. I am more conscientious about it now. The idea of sitting next to someone with a potentially exploding crotch does not engender confidence or a sense of well being. No, it was the concept of free-fall that gave me the most anxiety.
I recalled a couple of statements after the second jump. Yes, Gentle Reader, I did it twice in one afternoon. The first was from an unknown source: "Why would anyone want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?" And the other from the jump instructor: "Remember to roll on impact". The first statements' response is self evident in its conclusion. No one in their right mind would 'want' to. It takes a particular kind of madness to go for it. But the second statement had a more far-reaching transcendental value to it.
Remember to roll on impact. Not a bad bit of advice, that. Whether it's jumping out of a plane or out of a bed. In these particularly choppy times, when the ground seems to be rushing up to swallow you--remember to roll on impact. When it appears that you are a dumping ground for all the slings and arrows of other people's outrageous expectations--remember to roll on impact. When you perceive how you are about to be the innocent victim of collateral damage in a collision course between an irresistable force and an immovable object--remember to roll on impact.
I'm still afraid of heights. So much for the 'cure'. But I am actually more afraid of the sudden stop at the end of the journey downward. I make it a point to remind myself daily to roll on impact whenever I attempt to rise above my limitations.
A helmet doesn't hurt, either.
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