I’ve been asked, a tricky question.. in fact, I’m glad I had busy day and had time to think about it, before I had the time to type it. I think my answer changed several times so far, and quite perhaps, I could still be wrong.
The question to be answered in this post? “When to decide that skydiving ain’t for you”. First, the short answer: Before you get in the plane.
Please don’t under-estimate this, quick and simple answer. It’s rather important I think and sometimes overlooked. Once you’re in the plane, expectations, anxiety, fear even, can begin to rise as fast as the altitude does. Your best bet to make a clear minded, well thought and aware choice – at any point in your skydive career – is on the ground.
The long answer.. well, that’s a little bit tricky, it really depends on you. In my mind, I think it’s as simple as this: when you can’t do it right. That is to say, when you can’t do it with a smile on your face.
Of course, what puts a smile on your face.. is completely up to you. The reason you may love this sport is perhaps completely different than me, and the next guy, the next girl, and the next student in your First Jump Course. But for all I think, it’s got to make you happy, why else would you do it?
In my second skydive, http://www.skydiveblog.com/2007/06/my-second-skydive/, I went with brother and my wife at the time. Given a week of time stuck hearing me talk about the same sixty seconds over and over.. I think she might have tried it just to make me shut up – for the record, it did not work!
Me: I was still smiling from the jump a week before, I showed up early and with a case of water. I was trained for my Category B and the jump went well; it made me happy to be there. Skydiving was for me.
My (now ex) wife: She was excited, thrilled to be there trying something new with me. She made her Tandem Skydive and it went well. As she landed she was as happy as any Skydiver I’ve ever met. Then I asked her about doing AFF with me, and the smile quickly left her face. “Why would do it again?” she said, it was now scratched from her bucket list. Skydiving wasn’t for her anymore.
My brother: He came back to try again at his first jump. The previous week, he had decided in plane, at altitude, that he wasn’t ready to jump. I know that was a difficult choice for him (see quick and simple answer above). I remember, even now, how nervous he was that day, he rode the plane up, and again back down. He even came out a third time, a month or so later. That time, he listened to himself.. on the ground. Skydiving wasn’t for him. And for the record, after two plane rides with a parachute on his back, my brother has the biggest balls of any whuffo I’ve ever met.
I can think of a few more friends of mine, that have come out to try to sport. Maybe a dozen or so, even one good friend that did an AFF. His training and jump went well and he loved the rush. However, at the end of the day, going home and staying there, so his wife would know he was safe, made him smile even more. Skydiving wasn’t for him, at least, not quite yet.
I’m not sure if I even understand clearly the point I’m trying to make here yet, it seems so common sense that it’s hard to define. Live life for those you can’t live without. Try to make them happy, then yourself.
As odd as it might sound.. when I think way back to the beginning. I knew I was jumping the day of my first jump. And the second, the third, so on and so forth. The only people I couldn’t live without (as my children were attended to elsewhere) on those jumping days.. were my Instructors.
And.. (ouch, this hurts..) damn my soul to hell if I don’t plainly admit, on the day of my second jump, I payed a lot more attention to my Instructors, than I did my wife at all that day. I’d tell her I’m sorry one more time, but she’d know it’s a lie, and we’re too good of friends for that now.
I had the same smile on my face that day, as I have on my face at this very moment. I could tell you I miss my wife.. but I don’t and I’d rather tell you how great it felt to do turns that day, I used my arms to turn left and right and my legs to move forward through the air. On my second try, I even arched when I left the plane.
Really, even the long answer is pretty simple. When to decide that skydiving ain’t for you… anytime you’d be happier doing something else. Personally speaking, I am always a Father and forever a Skydiver. It’s just the way I was made.