Falling to reach new heights over the beach

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By: K’Man

To be completely honest I was looking to stir things up a bit, living to make the moments of now worth looking back on. On rare occasions, like the one I’m about to share, an opportunity finds its way to you. Whilst escaping the mind numbing banter of the office to procure a latte at a nearby cafe my phone rang, on the other end of the line was a familiar voice with an unfamiliar request, one that I could not refuse.

The call was short, sweet and left me in a state of awe. Did my boss actually just ask me to jump out of a plane and live to tell about it? Without hesitation and nearly giggling with excitement, I accepted his challenge.

From that point in time every moment seemed to be condensed into modular of fleeting moments. The first was the week leading up to the greatest fall of my life: everything seemed rightfully lacklustre. There might have been a few moments where I boasted about my planned endeavour to defy death and common sense, it brought me pleasure to evoke a reaction in people, but no matter how many I cared to tell there was still a cloud of unreality over it all.

The moments making up the day of my inevitable sky dive play back like a teaser to a great film one is dying to see; I text all those dear to me with what may be my final words to them. My next flash of memory is of my arrival to the main office at the St Kilda Marina, the staff there are an effervescent bunch, eager to share the experience with you. Forms and waivers were signed, which instilled a level of confidence.

The next two moments happened in succession. After that, my mind wanders through scenarios of the jump. The trip to the airport switched fairly quickly into meeting our tandem instructors and then off onto the plane. The other jumpers and I owe the young Irish lad many thanks; despite a twenty-five minute van ride to the airport, as he drove us, he shared his stories that were equally delightful in their entertaining notes and their distraction from the creeping thoughts of fear or doubt, and before we knew it we had arrived at the airport for introductions and instructions.

The pre-flight jump instructions were unexpectedly short and sweet. You simply make like a banana from the moment you’re perched on the doors edge right to the parachute pulling. Other than that, your attached counterpart does the landing for you. Next thing you know we’re all strapped up and taking off in a small plane.

The view from the plane ride itself gives you a new perspective on St Kilda and the surrounding suburbs, for anyone fortunate enough to call this area home, the view from above is to die for. You can even see as far as the silhouettes of Phillip Island before you can wipe the awe and drool off your mouth as the plane door opens.

Just to remind you, we are now 14,000 feet above the ground and slightly to the right of where you are currently reading this newspaper. This moment in which a plane door is opened to the sky is one most folks on the planet will not, and arguably should, experience in their life. Before one can really mentally digest this newly revealed doorway to the heavens the signal is given and the first two jumpers disappear.

There is a fleeting sequence of mental images as two humans tightly strapped together gently tip out the door way, dropping out of sight. How incongruent those moments are when you witness other humans doing exactly what you have been programmed never to do when in a plane, or any moving vehicle for that matter.

It’s now my turn to make like a banana.

Perched at the edge of safety, the instructions are going through my mind: Be a banana, wait for a tap, and then change to a semi-peeled flapping banana as you plummet chest first toward hard ground. I got this. At that very instant, as if my instructor could read my thoughts, we tip off the plane and into the rush of a lifetime.

The two of us become aerial stuntmen performing numerous air tumbles. Moments later we stabilize. Your signal to initiate the peeled banana position goes down flawlessly. Now you’re being roughly massaged by a bed of wind. Your senses are enraptured and at some point the fright of it all subsides. I found myself grinning from ear to ear (which only made my lips into a poor excuse for a parachute). The ‘chute pulls and you’re in cruise mode.

This wondrous sensation to all the senses is accompanied by visuals of a beautiful sky, suffused with crisp, cool blues, patchworks of green parks and street blocks, and the most beautiful blue waters carving into a thin beach strip. Four minutes of this seem to go just as fast as the 40 second free fall – Time is irrelevant when you’re plummeting toward Earth. We spiral down for a soft landing on a soft patch of grass near the Marina and then… it’s all over.

Let’s do it again! Any shadow of a doubt I had was lost several thousand feet in the air. What I remained with was a new version of myself, more appreciative of St Kilda and with a refined sense of thrill and danger. My recommendation to you, the reader, is don’t become another person dead by that creeping common sense. Live this life up, or at least die trying.

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