42 Seconds to Freedom

My 50th skydive over the deep blue of Oahu.

42 seconds to IMPACT… 41… 40… 39… That’s the amount of time it would take for me to hit the ground when exiting a plane from jump altitude and flying in a vertical orientation. Yes, I said flying

, not falling. 42 seconds to save your own life with a thin sheet of zero porosity fabric, some of which are no larger than the square footage of a ping pong table… 38… 37… 36… The seconds seem to count down even faster than your heart beats.

The question on your mind is, “WHY?”.

The answer of course: freedom.

When there is nothing between your physical body and the hard dimensions of the earth besides 13,000 feet of air friction and wind, things get really real. There is a shift in the time-space experience: time seems to stand still as you manipulate your body angle in order to use the air non-substance to create lift or drag, contouring the unseen to dance like angels with your best friends. Even though confined to the realities of Newtonian physics, there are no inhibitions, there are no physical restrictions, just pure, unadulterated, heart-pumping freedom.

…27… 26… 25… Getting closer now. When do I choose to save my own life?

Complete silence as you hit the wind and launch a human ball of flesh and adrenaline.

What is freedom? A disregard or detachment from others, rules and boundaries? The ability to vote for corrupt politicians? The convenience of spending money on things you don’t want and don’t need? Is freedom rooted in randomness and unpredictability, such as a coin toss? Or is it founded in causality and determinism: deliberate action created by self-motivation?

Cartwheel exit from a Skyvan over the FL coast.

Freedom, for me, is the acceptance of what “is” in order to create excellence within my actions. Freedom is looking at the reality of the situation and creating a path that manipulates the obvious in order to experience the extra-ordinary. Freedom is seeing the boundary | obstacle | confines and having the courage to splash paint outside the lines. It is only through my honor and awareness of establishment that I can then have the freedom to live both within it and outside of it, simultaneously.

When you step off the edge of the plane there is one known: you will hit the earth if you don’t do something about it. It is with this knowledge that the extra-ordinary in all of us is able to express itself… athleticism with nuance, sweat and determination with subtlety, adrenaline with breath, the power of yang with the ease of yin. Freedom is the ability to experience those elements of yourself that lie dormant in the mechanized world of daily life. Freedom is the chance to refrain from the question “why” and experience the hymn, the rhythm, the vibration of life that always “is.”

..11… 10… 9… It’s time to pull. Above me, the welcomed sight of my canopy flutters above my head. The soft, smooth fabric now taut from the collection of air in order to fly like a rigid wing. Air that knows no boundary is now collected and maintained in order to harness its power for the inevitable decent. The once high decibel of falling head to earth is now silenced and all I can hear are the farm animals below as well as the occasional primal sounds of joy coming from other canopies. Freedom is honesty. Freedom is the experience of reality and the intended curation of the exceptional. Freedom is empowerment emboldened from the reality of what “is” for the actualization of what “can be.” Freedom is everything.

When you’re upside down, the world seems just right.

I’ve been fortunate enough to fly with some of the best. And even more fortunate to travel all over the world to do it. Oceanside, CA