Tag Archives: fear of heights

“Birds Flyin’ High: You Know How I Feel! Sun In The Sky: You Know How I Feel!”

(Continued from August 25, 2011.)

“Um.  Vie-rra?”

I look up:  The badass to take me flying is heading toward us, with an already extended arm for a handshake.  He is so much larger than me.

I make my move, grinning:

“I’m Vera!” I say.

I feel calm and yet impatient:  I cannot wait to leap out into the sky.

“Sean,” he says.  What a decent name, on a decent man!

Then, he adds:  “And for the next hour, I’m going to be — your bodyguard.”

“I like that!” I say, still grinning.  Apparently, for the next hour, I am going to speak only with exclamations.

Sean gives me his forearm.  I grab it, and for the first time in the history of my womanhood — I actually mean it.  I let him lead the way.

On the sidelines, I can see the other instructors readjusting the gear on their students.  But mine is much cooler than that:  He doesn’t fuss.  He’s not even wearing his own gear yet.  Instead, he starts talking to me, calmly, about today’s “exceptional” skies.

“You can see everything much clearer, from up there,” he says.

I assume it’s metaphor for something:  A life of wisdom, of persevering past the suffering and finally landing into humility, which often takes the very place — of grace.

It must also be a metaphor for luck.  And then I think it’s a good sign that in his name, there is an equal number of letters as in mine — and we share the same vowels.

We talk.  Where did I come from?  How did he land here?

“I used to be afraid of heights,” he tells me.  “Until my family gave me a skydiving lesson, as a Christmas present.”

And this, I assume, must be a metaphor for something, as well:  For human courage and the choice to defeat one’s limitations.

“THE SKY IS THE LIMIT,” says the sign behind Sean’s back in the alcove where we’ve walked off to pick up his equipment.

And this!  This too — must be a metaphor.  A good sign.

And I already know that I shall continue rewinding this day in my memory every time I want to land into my own humility.

The aircraft pulls up.  It’s a tiny thing.  It sounds rickety — and I LOVE that.  Because it makes survival seem easy, nonchalant — not a thing to fuss over, or to fear.

Calmly, Sean goes over what’s about to happen.  As he gives me instructions about my head and limb positioning when up on the air, he throws in a few metaphors:

“When we come to the edge, you kneel down on one knee, as if proposing to me.  Rest your head on my shoulder.  Wait for me to tap you like this; then bring your arms out at a ninety-degree angle — and enjoy the view!”

I imitate his movements.  The thrill, the impatience, the anticipation makes me a terrible student though; because besides grinning, I don’t notice myself doing much else.  But my bodyguard must know that already, because he continues with his metaphors.

“If you feel like you can’t breathe — scream!”

And this too!  This too — must be a metaphor for something.

There are three other students besides me.  Two of them start leading the way to the non-fussy aircraft, accompanied by their instructors who are still adjusting their gear, yanking on the belts, clicking the hinges.  But mine is much cooler than that:  He doesn’t fuss.  Somehow, he’s managed to get geared up already and to check up on own my belts and hinges.  And he has done his job with grace, without arousing any adrenaline in me.

I feel calm, yet impatient:  I cannot wait to leap out into the sky — which must be the limit — and past my own limitations.

We are not even inside the plane yet, but already, I can hear the echos of Sean’s metaphors:

“When we come to the edge… kneel down as if proposing.”

“Rest your head…  Wait.”

“If you can’t breath — scream!”

Inside the aircraft, the two students making the jump at 10,500 feet straddle the bench ahead of us.  Their instructors start adjusting their belts again.  The four of us sit behind them.

My bodyguard and I continue talking.  Come to find out:  He is a gypsy, just like me, traveling mostly in pursuit of conquering his fears.  For eight years, he’s been leaping out into sky.

“You must be fearless!”  I say.

“No,” Sean answers, calmly.  “But this job — is a good metaphor for dealing with life.”

Underneath us, I can see the pretty geometric shapes of farmlands and fields that I have seen before out of the windows of other planes.  Since a child, I had always wanted to leap out into the clouds, somehow knowing that there wouldn’t be anything to fear about that.

I turn to Sean:  “How high are we?!”

I notice:  I myself have started speaking in metaphors.  Or, maybe, I have always done that.  Which must be why I still find myself leaping out into the skies of my limitations — on my own.  It must be hard to keep up.

“Six and a half,” my bodyguard answers and he shows me a watch-like device on this wrist with that number.

I grab it, meaning it, wanting to devour every bit of knowledge and skill that comes with leading a fearless life.  Sean tells me that’s the exact height at which he’ll open our parachute.

I do the math.  (My mind is clear, still unaffected by adrenaline.)

It means:  We shall free fall for 7,000 feet.

Wow.

My gratitude — floods in.

Calmly, I watch the other two couples leap out at their heights.  There is something very incredible in the way they make their final choice to go, letting the skies sweep them off the edge.

AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS.  IT’S HUMBLING.

We keep going up to our height.

“In what order do you wanna go?” Sean asks me, over my shoulder:  Somehow, he’s managed to have done his job again, and I am now sitting strapped onto his body, at my hips and shoulders.

“Let’s go first!” I answer, still grinning.

And still:  I am calm.  And still:  I am impatient to jump out into the sky.

Soon enough, we start sliding onto the edge.  When I put my goggles on, I hear the echo of Sean’s metaphor:  He must’ve told me that it would be the last gesture we do — before leaping out.  He’s amazing.

The four of us shake, slap, squeeze each other hands.  I can feel the heat rising up behind my goggles:

THIS!  THIS HUMILITY AND GRACE — THIS VERY HUMANITY — IS WHAT LIFE MUST BE ABOUT!  

Sean slides the door up.

“Come to the edge.”

“Kneel.”

“Rest.”

“Breathe.”

I hear the echos.  The heart — is on my tongue.  I think:  I’m screaming.

Maybe not.

We get swept off.

IT. 

IS. 

AMAZING.

When daydreaming about leaping out into the sky before, I used to think I would cry.  I was wrong:

It’s all joy!  All rapture!  All gratitude! 

Like a giant orgasm, for 7,000 feet!

And it tastes — just like the Ocean!

I am air-bound now, above California.

Above my life.

“Suga, Suga: How You Get So Fly?”

As you can clearly see from the rant blog by yours truly (better tagged by one her readers as “a very pretty cunt”), I have never been at a lack for words.  Also, due to a significant number of years invested in my education (still happening, by the way), I have acquired the skills necessary for choosing those words precisely and, hopefully, with time, quite wisely.

But I shall confess:  My recent break-up — left me utterly speechless Because there we were:  a couple of friends who were slowly — and gracefully — becoming a couple.  The affair had a very natural flow to it.  For the first half of it, we were taking it slowly; cruising along as lovers who enjoyed each other’s company immensely.  Days at a time were spent together, without either one of us acquiring an anxiety or getting on each other’s nerves.  And the best part about this ordeal was that we “chose” to spend time with each other; and in that choice, there was a wonderful amount of freedom and dignity.  No one was making demands.  No one was feeling trapped.  We were in this — willingly.  (Or at least, so I thought.)

Sooner or later, however, there was a turning point; or as I like to call it:  “Time for an Upgrade”.  The lovers began traveling together.  They maintained a daily contact.  Friends were being met.  Questions were being answered to family members (how ever carefully, on my part).  Yet still, the affair was characterized by an certain ease:  Both lovers were still in it, seemingly willingly, and no one was asking for any assurances.  We — were cruising.

Perhaps, it was because this “very pretty cunt” has always been quite independent.  Not since a tumultuous marriage way back when have I treated a relationship as a solution to my personal lacks.  Perfectly complete and competent on my own, I treat a partner as a mere traveling companion:  I choose (here is that word again!) to spend time with him; and that’s just so much better!

Moreover, I don’t believe in making demands from a man; because for the lack of better words (of which, may I remind you, I rarely have a deficit):  Making demands — reeks of despair.  And I just don’t do despair.  Fear causes wrinkles on my face and makes my hair fall out.  Chalk it up to my vanity thing.  So.  Yeah.  I don’t do dat!  Fo’ shiz.

Which means that I’m never the broad to demand keys to my guy’s apartment, or a ring; or a notarized contract on the chronology of “where exactly all this is going” — with clearly established deadlines.  I mean, I have NEVER even asked for a relationship update on his fucking Facebook!  (And by the look of it, I will NEVER have that opportunity in the future either, because at this point, my Facebook profile — belongs to my rant blog.  I’m a working girl, you see:  Whomever I may be shagging at the time — that’s irrelevant for my networks.)

“I’ve always seen you as this…  how should I say it?… a free spirit,” one of my witnesses testified over a month ago.  Every bit of a gentle-man, this creature has learned to deal with my radical opinions with admirable tolerance and subdued judgement.  That day, he gently confronted me about my aloofness toward this now obviously significant other.

“Perhaps, you’ve never been in a normal relationship — because it’s YOU who’s avoiding it.  And if this man is important to you, you must tell him that!”

Oh, no!  Oy, nyet!  Have I become too much of a cruiser?  One of those bohemian, universal-love, everything-happens-for-a-reason, Namaste chicks?  Nothing wrong with that, of course; but regardless of my love of freedom — and my respect for my partner’s freedom (AND his choice) — I do aspire to be IN a relationship.  In a LOVE!  So, have I been disrespecting this beloved man of mine with my aloofness?  Have I kept him at bay by “taking it easy” and “just going with it” — just “cruising”?!

“I must correct that!” I thought.  “He needs to know that I love him, that I am — ‘committed’!”

And so I did!  At the very next opportunity for mutually free time, I brought it up.

Cut to:  It was over.

Yep, in that very same talk that was merely meant to communicate my feelings and clarify my intensions, my man’s response was that HE — “just wasn’t ready for a commitment”.

I was speechless. 

And because I was speechless, I turned to the other gentle-men in my life, for their capable and eloquent evaluations.  Here is one testimony:

“So I was reading an article about airline pilots, and they all agree the most comfortable and safest part of the flight is ‘the cruise’… which is the max comfortable cruising altitude.  All blue skies up there.  They can even take a nap legally, eat, and talk about their lives.

On the contrary, the most dangerous part of a flight is take-off and landing. The point: Changes in altitude are dangerous.

Your relationships was in ‘the cruise’.  And your [relationship talk] was a request for a change of altitude.  Higher.  Thinner air.  The plane (your relationship) needs more speed to stay aloft.  Makes ‘pilots’ nervous.”

Um…  Okay.  I hear that!  Trust me, there ain’t another woman I know better equipped for the cruising mode — than me.  And when it came to this particular affair (now, obviously NOT a “relationship”) — I was a fucking co-pilot!  It took other gentle-men — people of my man’s kind — to remind me to treat my partner with the respect, and the recognition, and the acknowledgement that he deserved:  To let him step into my cockpit.

And may I also say:  What is it about the mere word “relationship” that makes so many men so very, very nervous?  Why have there been so many tales of gentle-men treating a commitment like a life sentence?  Or a fucking plane crash?

I cannot speak for other women here, but this “very pretty cunt” was not asking her man for obedience or some materialistic assurances.  Due to the mere fact of my overprotectiveness of my own freedom, I wasn’t asking for the surrender of his. 

No, my gentle-creatures:  This co-pilot was not demanding to take over the control panel of that bloody aircraft.  I was not changing the course of our cruising or contacting the ground station for the coordinates of our final destination.  The very respectful conversation that ended us — in mid-flight! — was merely meant to establish the equality of our titles as “co-pilots”.  I dared to ask for a recognition, just so that to other gentle-men and -women in my life, my relationship didn’t sound like morse code.

But don’t you worry, my gentle-creatures:  This pilot — this “very pretty cunt” — shall be quite alright.  Because she’s never latched onto her man for survival or asked him to pay for her fuel, the return to flight will resume sooner rather than later.  And judging by this rant blog, even her speech is quickly coming back to her.

So, okay:  It’ll be a lil’ while before she regains any communication with the self-dismissed co-traveler (obviously NOT a co-pilot!).  And it will be an even longer while until another fearless pilot steps-up to the plate to co-navigate to higher, unknown, thrilling altitudes.  But until then, she’ll just enjoy this unexpected landing and explore the scenery of self-examination she otherwise would not have gotten a chance to witness.  Because this free spirit — was NEVER afraid of cruising!