Free Falling

I have always been jealous of birds… When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a pilot. My dad organized a joy flight in a Cesna at Camden, not far from where i was born.

Takeoff took my breath away… I remember our pilot letting me take the controls. We circled, climbing the skies. My little heart soared and sank again when he informed me I’d better be good at maths if I wanted to fly.

A few years later I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull. A simple parable about the power of spreading our wings, that really spoke to me on a very personal level.

When I was 21, I learned how to skydive & jumped out of a plane. Free falling would have to be the ultimate in utter abandonment. Your heart throbs in your throat, your head, your eyes.

You lose all sense of time & space. Your body, your self. The sky spins in all directions. I’d compare it to love or the first time I took ecstasy but it’s not even close.

For my 40th birthday I’d put hangliding on my wish-list. My workmates came good. After a few cancellations, the planets aligned and I ended up going last Friday. The conditions were perfect. It was a cracking day.

One step, two steps, jog, jog, run (screeeeeeem) – the ground snaps away fast from under your feet. And it’s just you, your pilot and essentially a big big kite. Instead of the sky spinning, it starts spanning.

Opening up. Your lungs expand. You breathe in deep and ex-hhhale. Mouth open wide, eyes open wide. Stretched across the sky like a Slessor poem. Or like the Sydney skyline I just left behind.

I’ve always been jealous of birds. Now I have no reason to be. Today, I am as free as they. I might not be piloting the plane I write this on, but I am certainly spreading my wings.

12 May


One response to “Free Falling

  1. Can I please, please, please help you get published when you return to Oz? This is so the perfect start to travel memoir – so fucking beautifully written and insightful and quirky and so, so, so much else. I really want to see your work in a book, and I want to help make it happen! Please say yes
    Love you loads,
    Sib :-)xx

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