I have to tell you that all my life, my mother considered me weak. I was sick as a baby until about the age of 5. I cried about everything and anything that hurt me. I never held back my tears. I could never shrug off mean and hurtful things. In all honestly, I thought I was weak too. I didn’t think I was brave at all.
For the record, I want to state that normally I don’t think skydiving is a test of bravery in the way I mean it. Everything is very controlled. You take your class, you go up in the plane, jump out, somebody on the ground directs your landing. Bam, boom, you’re done. When I paid my fee at the counter, I thought it would be fun, certainly an adrenaline rush but not a test of bravery.
You’re sitting on the plane, on the floor. Your mind is goo because you can’t think of anything but jumping. It’s so dang loud, the instructor shouts his directions. When it’s your turn to jump, you hesitate. You want to turn back. What were you thinking? The instructor tries to encourage you to get into the doorway. Finally, you just do it and you don’t know why.
You clear the plane, your parachute opens. Yeah! You feel like you’re sitting in an airplane without the airplane. It’s so cool. The radio attached to your clothes crackles and someone on the ground starts talking.
Per his instructions, you do a somersault, then another, then another. You’re so light, you could just keep going on forever. On the last somersault, you feel some weight leaving you. You see a red dot falling to the ground. It’s your radio. All of a sudden, your world is silent.
You start to panic. You remember the instructor’s words, “If you think about running into a power line, you’ll run into a power line.” Guess what you are thinking. Slowly but surely you float towards a power line and certain death.
Maybe a minute passes or maybe it’s the longest nanosecond ever, but you struggle to unscramble your brain in what seems like an eternity. Too many thoughts pass through it. You hear your mother’s voice telling you to toughen up. You hear her say, “Why can’t you be brave like your sister?” You hear the taunts of your classmates in school. Like then, you do nothing but cry as you lazily float closer to the power line.
Then everything stops. The voices stop. The tears stop. It’s just you and the wind.
You see the power lines clearly now. In less than a minute you will reach the point of no return. You have to make a choice now. You can surrender to the voices, continue towards the power lines, and die. Or you can be brave for once in your life, turn away from the power lines, and live.
Life or death, the choice should be easy. It would be easy to continue towards the power lines. This would be the non-action, expected choice if the voices had anything to do with it. It’s what you’ve done your whole life.
Instead, you choose life. You realize you are brave. You’re not a crybaby who does nothing to defend herself. When you truly have to save yourself, you can.
Elated and relieved, you search the ground for a place to land. You see a nearby farm and land safely on a green pasture. The farmer sees you and drives you and your parachute back to the hangar.