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125 Miles Per Hour
By Kevin Maguire

One day at work I had a realization that had been growing deep inside. I looked around my office and did a summary of all of my accomplishments. Although I was proud of where I was in life, I felt completely empty and clueless as to what I wanted to be when I "grew up".

I knew it was time to make a change, time to do something drastic, something big. So I talked three of my crazy friends into stepping it up with me and pushing our limits.

It is early morning and the four of us are driving down the road to our destination looking at a brochure that has "125 Miles Per Hour" on the cover. As we open it, my heart drops to the floor realizing what I have organized; a skydiving adventure. The feeling was part anxiety and mostly fear.

We arrive at Skydive Atlanta and immediately start the "Safety Training". First we sit in front of a TV/VCR that is playing a video that was more like a bad comedy skit. We even laughed a few times, that is until they mentioned death and the fact that it may happen to us.

Sitting there signing away contracts that say death every tenth word can put things into perspective relatively quick. Let's just say I said some prayers and made some phone calls to the ones I love and did a recap of my life while waiting my turn to jump.

Now it is on with the spacesuits and out to the planes. Mind you these are not the jets we take back home for thanksgiving, no no, they are small seatless planes without a stewardess, but there are plenty of nuts on board.

We are going to fly way up into the sky and jump out; talk about pushing the limit!

I am seated at the front of the plane next to the pilot and the last jumper in the plane. The pilot leans over and says "get ready", then dips the plane so we feel weightless for a moment, an unbelievable feeling by the way. Then in an instant the sound inside the cabin exploded with fury and volume as the door opened in the back of the plane.

I have never had a reality check as intense and as hardcore as that moment, that is until a few minutes later I notice that everyone who was in the plane is now gone and I am standing in the doorway at 14,500 feet about to jump.

The first thing I notice as I stand on the "plank" is the floor of clouds thousands of feet below.

I vaguely remember someone doing a countdown and then rolling out of the plane. Remember when you were a kid and you would spin around a few times in the yard and fall to the ground and watch everything go round and round, well multiply that feeling by a million.

Flying south at 125 miles per hour, I feel like superman as I rip through the clouds. Free-falling for 66 seconds felt like a lifetime up there. Every once and a while I would pull my cheeks back from behind my ears and realize how loud it was.

The video camera guy that also jumped out of the plane gives me a high-five (literally) and flys off. The guy I am jumping tandem with yells in my ear that he is pulling the cord.

We went from 125 miles per hour to what seemed like being shot out of a cannon at the circus. I will never forget the feeling of almost leaving my body as the chute opened and everything went completely silent. I closed my eyes and stretched out in every direction as far as I could. There are no words to possibly describe that moment, that feeling, that realization.

I still ask myself why I would have even thought to ask for this request, but I asked my tandem jumper to give me the full effect of a skydive he would do if he had jumped alone. As we were spinning around doing figure 8's in the sky, I felt like I was on the Batman rollercoaster at Six Flags on crack.

Now comes the scary part, the landing. As we get closer I have flashbacks of the video we saw earlier stating that most deaths happen when landing. At this point the trees are getting bigger and the landing field is in sight. Superman takes over again as I wave to the citizens of Metropolis below (not really).

We graciously sweep into the landing zone and slide into home plate, planet earth. I made it!

As I stood up I felt like the first man on the moon, or should I say earth. I have never and will most likely never again feel as alive as I did at that moment. That unbelievable, incredible, amazing, natural high lasted for about a month, but I still dream about flying.

When you stare fear in the face, you figure out what is really important to you. That is why I decided to fly thousands of feet into the sky and willingly jump out of a plane.

Let's just say that skydiving gave me the perspective I was looking for, it gave me appreciation, it gave me the scariest experience of my life.

It gave me the courage to change my life for the better!


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