Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Relax

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I’ve never been skydiving.

I’ve never gripped the sides of a plane. The side door open. Wind rushing past me, ready to take me with it. Backpack strapped to my back filled with life-giving silk.

I’ve never experienced the sensation of falling outside the cheap thrills of an amusement park. I’ve never completely given myself over to gravity. There has always been a safety harness holding me.

But I have been indoor skydiving.

photo by

photo by offstandard

Floating

My oldest two boys and I took a father son trip to Orlando several weeks ago. When we drove by the indoor skydiving sign we had to try it.

Indoor skydiving isn’t exactly what you would think. There is no jumping. There is no parachute. There is not falling, at least there isn’t supposed to be.

The apparatus is a large wind tunnel directed vertically. The fan at the bottom creates wind speeds of over 100mph. And then you lay down in this wind and you float. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Turns out floating isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Relaxing

During our orientation session the instructor kept repeating two ideas to us. Keep your chin up and relax. He told us some other things, but I don’t remember what they were. And he didn’t care whether or not we remembered. He only said them because he was supposed to. Because a lawyer said he had to.

The only thing he wanted us to focus on, the only thing worth remembering, was to keep our chin up and relax.

Keeping your chin up forces you to arch your back and then to spread out your arms and legs. Keeping your chin up creates the proper position to do what was most important. Relax.

Why did our instructor tell us so many times to relax? Two reasons, relaxing is enough. The wind does all of the work. It is what keeps you afloat. Relaxing your body allows it to do what it does best.

And the second reason is that you can’t find wind. You can’t grab it and tame it like a wild horse. You can’t capture the wind and put it in a bottle and control it. The wind just is. Not relaxing doesn’t help. It actually makes things worse.

All you need to do is float. Let the wind grab you and hold you and lift you.

Controlling

One girl didn’t believe him.

When she stepped into the tunnel she did what came natural. She tried harder.

She tried to control her body through effort. She tried to grab and to hold and to manipulate. She waved her arms and legs. And it didn’t work. Instead of gaining control, she lost it.

In order to keep her safe, the instructor basically wrestled with her. She didn’t seem to enjoy it. She was blown all over the wind tunnel. She had no control at all. She accomplished nothing good.

It was incredibly funny to watch.

Telling Stories

I’ve wondered if we live our stories like this girl. The struggling and wrestling and grabbing at the wind.

Maybe our stories would be better if we relaxed more.

Maybe we try to force our story so much we end up fighting it instead of living it. We make our goals such a priority we stop living a story and start living in our dreams.

Our goals typically represent who we wish we were. The future we hope for. Sometimes goals represent the past we wish still was. But the only way we can change is to be who we are right now. To live in our reality. To see it and understand it. To relax and let ourselves be for a moment.

And then we can understand what our story is and how to make it better.

Instead of struggling, we need to relax, to look, to listen, and let our stories take us to a better place. Tweet that

The most critical moments of my own story came because I was willing to stop and listen. The most important decisions of my story came not because I had incredible goals but because I let go of the story I wanted and said yes to the story that was right in front of me. A story that was harder but better.

Performing

At the end of our session our instructor put on a show for us. He was amazing. He could do flips. He would contort in positions much different than the ones we struggled to simply maintain. He would go to the top of the chamber and back down again. He would come within inches of the wall without touching it.

His ability to float was incredible. His control was remarkable. He was so good he looked like he lived in the Matrix.

He knew exactly what to do make his body do what he wanted to. He learned and then he practiced. And now he is amazing.

All because he first relaxed.

Do you think relaxing is an important part of story-telling?

You can leave a comment by clicking here?

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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5 Replies

  1. Fear and stress are major thought breakers for me. I’ve begun taking 15-minutes at lunch to relax daily and it has helped my creativity tremendously. Love this story – sounds like some memories were made!

  2. Andrew Inge

    What are your thoughts about the relationship between relaxing, intentional living, and being proactive?

  3. Great story Jeremy. I’ve never done indoor skydiving but it sounds fun.

    I believe relaxing is an important part in story-telling. Too often we push and struggle when all we need to do is chill.

    There’s something about sitting back for a bit and letting creativity flow through.

  4. Good question. I struggled with that tension as I wrote this. And I’m not sure I completely know the answer.

    I think that dreaming and goal setting and intentionality can be good. I think we should do it more. Waiting and watching rarely creates anything good. Godo things happen when we start and we do.

    That being said, I think we get caught up in the story we wish were telling so much that we lose sight of the good story in front of us. Some of my thoughts in this article come from something I read.

    “We never grow by dreaming about a future wonderful state or by remembering past feats. We grow by being where we are and experiencing what our life is right now. We must experience our anger, our sorrow, our failure, our apprehension; they can all be our teachers, when we do not separate ourselves from them. When we escape what is given, we cannot learn, we cannot grow.”

    For me, part of my story is writing. I tend to worry about how many comments I have on my blog and how many subscribers I have and how many retweets I have. I need to relax and write, I need to be intentional about writing. But I also need to relax about whether or not people show up to read.

    What do you think?

  5. Diego

    I found the story truly authentic. I admire how you can find these “messages” everywhere if you just pay attention. Sometimes we try so hard to be liked, to be followed, to be…and forget that the best way to act is patience, let the things flow. For me those are the keys to keep me authentic, try to forget about the rest and tell my story, my thoughts, open myself to who I am. Immediate action is hardly ever a good action. So, I’m patient and let things flow: try to relax and express myself.
    It takes a lot of discipline and more than often I struggle with it.
    Intentional living and proaction takes a lot of relaxing out if you push it too much. But it is on taking the pause, that you get clarity to actually act.

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