The rickety old Cessna 182 wheezed its way to the desired altitude of 10000 feet. A latch was popped and the freezing air at that altitude came roaring in. Andreas, my German instructor said nothing; he just pointed to the open door and silently mouthed the word 'Go'! I stumbled to the door and onto the beam projecting out onto the side of the aircraft. Down below was the world I was familiar with, cute houses in the little town of Middletown, the Atlantic coastline of Rhode Island, ships, boats and aircraft carriers that looked like the pieces on a "Battleships" board. There was no hesitation on my part as I crossed my arms and waited for Andreas to indicate that he was ready too. I had run this thought through my imagination so many times that it was just like one more of those dreams. I belonged down there with the mortals, not up here with the Gods. I had to get back and on this trip, there was only one to do that!
A light tap on my shoulder told me to let go and let go I did! The cold air rushed into my face, into my eyes and into my soul as I plummeted at 130 mph towards Mother Earth. twirling away and being brought back higher by the occasional updraft. I screamed, not a scream of fear but one of unabashed excitement. I felt the adrenalin pumping through my blood as all my senses tingled with this mother of all thrills. This wasn't the proverbial rush of blood to the head, this was more like a flash flood.
After about 40 seconds of lung-bursting screaming (though it felt like forever), another tap told me to ease myself into a normal position. What is a normal position, I hear you ask when you are at 4000 ft having covered the preceding 6000 feet at blinding speed? Well, it's just that you have to unarch yourself from the U-position of free-fall to something straighter so that the tug of the parachute opening doesn't snap your spine accidentally. I did my best; taking into consideration the fact that I don't jump out of perfectly good aeroplanes everyday (though I'd love to). The parachute opened in its multicoloured splendor with a 'whomp' and a jerk above me and all of a sudden I was just a poet at a high altitude instead of the raving madman who had dropped out of an airplane. It was a handbrake on the lunacy of the whole act at just the right time.
The parachute brought everything into slo-mo mode now. I was an privileged intruder into the everyday world of an eagle as the parachute moved around in lazy circles bringing into view brightly painted toy houses, the vast expanse of the Atlantic as it wrapped itself around the curves of the earth, the beautiful suspension bridge across which snake trails of traffic nudged along and many such views of such intense beauty that lie beyond the grasp of words. The same wind that was hammering into my ear a minute ago was now whispering secrets which I could not comprehend but made me feel smug just because she had chosen me. This is such a rotten overused cliche but I've got to use it myself and say that the world looks so perfect and peaceful from up there. If that is indeed how God's point of view is from His office in the heavens, he must be patting himself on the back for the great job He has done! Maybe He needs to get more down-to-earth!
I could've done this floating parachute deal for all eternity but gravity had to do its work. So down I came with softest of thuds in the middle of a green patch of land designated as the landing site. I was back in the world as I knew it. I love the world the way it is and even though it could've been better, there's no doubting that it could've been much much worse. And thus I added another completion tick mark to my list of things which I just had to do.