There I was, flying 13,000 feet in the air without an airplane.
I was plummeting 120 miles per hour toward the earth, with my arms and legs outstretched. I was skydiving . Just prior to that, I had raced through several hours of training. I knew the eight steps required to check my parachute, and what to do if I needed to pull my reserve. Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind.
Surprisingly, the one thing I didn’t really have much time to think about was skydiving itself, since the activity is not necessarily conducive to full, present-moment awareness. You have too much to think about to fully experience it.
What a fittingly ironic metaphor for life. In our most profound moments (our wedding day, receiving our Country Music Award, our appearance on COPS ), we’re often preoccupied with so many other things to be present and fully experience the moment.
To experience life, you COULD wait for the video
I’m proud to say, at around 8,000 feet, I was able to have the out-of-body experience of looking down on myself and saying to myself, “Okay, I’m skydiving. This is what it’s like to skydive.” This present moment lasted about three seconds. If that. Then I quickly went back into the mode of FAA safety inspector. Overall, the experience was exhilarating. I think.
It wasn’t until I saw the video that I knew what a blast I had, and how cool I looked doing it. The fact that the video of my experience was set to a soundtrack that included Moby, U2, and Van Halen certainly helped.
You are there…or are you?
is there anything better than the live, you-are-there experience? When you’re totally in the moment. Like a scene from a movie, time slows to a stand still. You can hear and feel your heartbeat. All the noise around you becomes white and fades into the background. You’re focused. You’re alive. Even more sublime is to enjoy that moment with another. With many others. With a crowd of thousands. With all of humanity.
Focus. Focus. Focus. Ever notice how funny a word sounds when you keep repeating it?
There’s a lot to be said about sharing significant moments in our lives. When I called friends at work right after my skydive, they later told me they could hear the excitement and energy in my voice coming right through the phone lines.
But when I’m in those moments, I’m often distracted about who I’ll tell about the experience, and how I’ll weave the tale, or write about it in my journal or the article for the Web. This is not good. Every millisecond spent planning my report of the experience takes away from the experience itself.
Life doesn’t wait until we show up before it barrels forward. Whether we’re present or not, it’s going to happen. So it’s best to stop and think. Be aware. Listen. Slow down. Focus.
This frame of mind will help us experience every day of our life like it’s a big-time, star-studded, Hollywood premiere. Which is much better than waiting for our life to come out on video. By practicing awareness of the moment (even for just a moment), we can fully experience Life in all its thrill-ride glory.