Risk takers, dare devils, adrenaline addicts, whatever you want to call them, skydivers have a different kind of genetic makeup. You can say adrenaline junkies are wired wrong, but I believe the majority are wired just right- usually leading towards daring decisions that inspire a life of adventure.
The first time I jumped from 13,000ft. was in Interlaken, Switzerland, out of an airplane. The second time was in Temple, Texas. The third time was out of a helicopter…again in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Simply said, it is a gene thing. You are either genetically wired to love this kind of thrill, or you don’t. I certainly do.
But, why am I talking about skydiving, when this post is about Fort Bragg, NC? Well, I want to point out that there are adrenaline junkies and then… there are paratroopers. Army paratroopers to be specific. And paratroopers my friend, have a lot more guts than most adrenaline junkies. The currency rate for US Army paratroopers is to jump at least once every three months, to keep their “jump pay”. But, in my personal experience, men and women of the 82nd Airborne Division jump out of perfectly good aircrafts more like 3 times a month, solely for training, and most often in some kind of inclement weather. [These numbers stand outside of actual deployment numbers]
In September of 2015, Rob got assigned to his first duty station, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; home of the Airborne and Special Operations. For the next year of our lives, Rob would build this special “paratrooper” toughness, being part of the 82nd Airborne Division, the primary fighting arm of the XVIII Airborne Corps. I, simultaneously, and with the help of an amazing community, would build our Army family- one that would help us get through our first year of Army life with a smile.
You see, when I recount our days in Fort Bragg, that year was a lot like what I imagine jumping out of an Army Aircraft on a static line would be like. The anticipation and preparation being the worst part. For us, we went through months of being apart, prepping in silos for our first Army home. Packing bags, stuffing chutes, preparing for a safe life landing, rolling through scenarios of how to navigate turbulent air pockets as they would come, difficulties as they would arise. And then loading onto an aircraft, with your life’s security on your back, by the will of your own hands. For me, reminding myself as I tried to ground in a new city, that I have everything I need and I would be okay. A job, friends, yoga, life, it would all come in time in its own time and we would be okay.
And then there is the green light, the one that is always accompanied by someone yelling GO, GO, GO…. and all the sudden, everything you have prepared for is waiting for you to take the leap towards it. All you have to is jump. It’s both scary and a thrill. Forward is the only choice, and so you leap. You jump out into the open, counting on catching the right wind. And for a whole long moment, your world seems to still. You hear the beat of your heart, you check your chute, and then you realize you are okay. You are okay. You are in the air, you have made it to this new place, catching the right wind, and now, all you have to do is enjoy it and keep moving forward.
And that’s when choices come in. How can you best serve yourself and others in this jump. What will make it most enjoyable? What can you learn? Where should you land? You make quick plans, you feel the pattern of the wind lifting you up, you remember to pull your knees into chest and you set your eyes on a target. You slow yourself down and you decisively make movements. You again, count on your knowledge and the forces of nature around you to guide you in. And you simply glide on towards your target. In the next moments, you take a look around. In clear sight, you see all your friends who made this big jump with you. You smile; feeling thankful for those who believed in you, for the courage you showed in taking the big leap forward, and for those who took the same big leap with you. You all arrived at your target, onto your desired landing space, in the home of the free- because of you and your friends- the brave.
I know, its a long metaphor. But, it couldn’t be more accurate. Being a paratrooper does indeed require a great deal of guts. It requires dedication, knowledge, faith and a supportive community. But, these characteristics are not exclusive to the paratrooper. They also are survival requirements for all military members, spouses, family members and friends. For all those who spend much of their moments in prayer, asking for a safe landing for their loved ones. And then there comes the support of the community, akin to those who clear out debris and harmful objects that could inhibit a safe landing on ground. Really, military members and their families can have done all the preparation, hold all the knowledge necessary, and carry their faith like the rucks on their back, but if their target landing space is filled with harmful objects, red tape, or unsafe conditions, the landing is destined to be rough. So, I would like to thank the community of Fort Bragg, the community of Fayetteville, for maintaining a landing space where military members can glide most gently home. As a military spouse, I can’t imagine getting through those praying/waiting games without the friends I made in the great city of Fayetteville/ Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A sincere thank you everyone who made our first courageous jump possible. And a special thank you to my big yoga family of Fayetteville, my Army wives club of three, to Lisa Ray and the 440th AW, and to Alan Wooten and the Fayetteville Observer.
And for your entertainment, here is my latest skydive with the US Army’s Golden Knights (All thanks to the Air Force Reserve’s 440th AW). https://youtu.be/Q1YElpnSGM4
When I think about it, maybe it’s the adrenaline junkie in me that can smile at all the craziness military life can inspire. And again, to the point I made above, I may just be wired for it. So for us all, GO GO GO and make decisions that inspire a life of adventure.
In love and light,