So I’m prepping to speak at a skydiving symposium in Poland. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Curiously, my life is pretty much a long series of sentences I never thought I’d write. What’s cool though is a big part of me absolutely loves that. For the symposium, I have been tasked with giving a talk straight from the subtitle of my new book, How to Fly: Life Lessons from a Professional Skydiver.
So here I sit, asking myself, what the heck have I learned about life from skydiving?
Turns out, I’ve learned A LOT from this sport, community and family of ours.
So much, I’m sitting here thinking, no chance I can fit it all in one 45-minute talk and sweet-ass PowerPoint. Which of course only makes me want to do it that much more… hmm, what’s that about?
Like all those sentences I never thought I’d write about my life… and how I really like my life being full of that… turns out, I like the unexpected. I like weird. I like the adventure of the unknown. I like the fun only found in things going ways we never thought they’d go. Turns out, I like living into the edges. Challenging the status quo. Challenging what’s “not possible.” Challenging what’s “not normal.” Giving the metaphorical bird to ideas that broader society might blindly live within if not for people willing to jump out of airplanes. Literally or figuratively. Turns out, I like questioning what my own mind tells me I can’t do and what “the system” tries to dictate.
If we don’t question what we automatically do, or what ideas we were born into, either in our youth or cultures, we risk living our lives feeling so much less alive than we could if only we used our courage to look more closely and take new action into the opportunities we see.
Every time I text one of my people #fuckthesystem before takeoff in a commercial jet, I feel like that awesome delighted devil emoji is legitimately me helping save the world one thoughtful, rebellious, naughty-and-actually-revolutionary act at a time. Every time I dance on the platform to the music in my earbuds waiting for the train. Every time I make a joke that should be long over. Every time I eat taziki for dinner. Every time I look a person I’m getting to know dead in the soul and ask them how they are.
But wait, is that all I’ve learned from skydiving? Edges? Extremity? Metaphorical middle fingers? Is that enough to encapsulate “life lessons?”
Definitely no. … Why?
Because honestly, I #lovethesystem too. Not the bullshit ideologies that keep us small, disconnected and scared, but the parts of the system that support us to self-express, connect in community, share in love and grow into the highest most unexpected versions of ourselves too. Goddamn, I love those parts of the system.
No chance my sweet-ass PowerPoint could include the full scope of life lessons I have learned, earned, fought against and finally let go to really get. That’s not going to keep me from trying either.
I feel like life ultimately gives us everything—true balance… the full yin-yang—and skydiving, as a parallel to life, shows it all too over a long enough timeline. The highs and lows. The love and loss. The freedom and the fear. The tears of painful grief and pure hilarity. The life-altering connection and undeniable solitude. The teamwork and courage to stand apart when necessary. The breakdowns and the breakthroughs. The wild unpredictability of life and our powerful ability to choose who we are, how we want to be and what we want to create at any point.
It’s all there.
What do you see so far along your skydiving path?
Maybe one talk in Warsaw will include it all for me, who knows. If I know anything from skydiving and my life at large, it’s that I most definitely haven’t been able to plan or predict the most incredible experiences and connections of my life and career to date. Those have pretty much always whacked me up against the proverbial head and heart hahaha.. and at the same time some of my greatest achievements have required years of effort and intention too. None of it has ever stopped me from trying. From saying yes to my life no matter what it brings me. From making the most of every experience as the opportunity I believe it to be.
What do you believe? #goteam Tizzle 2.0/awesome delighted devil emoji, out.