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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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