Since I was a child, I have had dreams of flight. In my dreams I would run and jump, and my body would take flight for a few seconds. I would soar through the skies feeling free! My whole life has been consumed by the dream of flight, from the toys I played with to my daydreams in school and at home.
A couple years ago, I made the decision that I would start skydiving to pursue my dream. At that time, as in most of my life, I was struggling to survive both mentally and physically. I had no real direction in life, turning to substances and negative behaviors to fill the void.
It took a little less than a year to get the money up for a tandem. In the time between my decision to skydive and my first jump, I made some poor choices. I needed to start living life and follow a dream, pursuing passion. I didn't realize at that time just how much my life would irreversibly change by doing so. On July 19, 2016, I made my first skydive. I started AFF shortly thereafter. I found my passion.
Skydiving is a metaphor for life and the way it should be lived. As skydivers, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit our mistakes. And let's face it, in life and skydiving we screw up, especially when learning. In order to learn from our mistakes, we must set ego aside, admit our wrongs, learn from them and move on, not dwelling on our mistakes but not forgetting them.
I have found that shedding my ego is easier now that I have become a skydiver. There is so much fear in this sport, especially at first. The cool thing about this is that every time I jump, I train my mind to compartmentalize fear. And since fear is one of the extreme emotions, it feeds back into other emotions. I have found myself more in control mentally and emotionally. I realized through skydiving that fear was holding me back in life. It was one major reason I wasn't where I wanted to be. Succumbing to fear was very easy for me because I could find any justification for not facing it. Skydiving has given me the realization that with hard work and sacrifice, we can achieve any dream or anything in life. The sacrifice I have made is working a full-time job and a part-time job and living in my car to afford skydiving.
I moved from my home town in Montana to the Portland, Oregon, area so I could pursue the betterment of self, a speaking career and skydiving. It was hard leaving everything, including the drop zone where I started learning, but to be able to focus on my goals the way I wanted to, I had to go.
Skydiving has taught me that the direction of our lives and the shape of our future is in our hands. Some of us may have to fight a bit harder for it than others. But we can achieve if we believe and work hard. I've learned through skydiving that if we want to achieve our dreams, we need to structure our lives around our dreams and not our dreams around our lives.
In this sport there is risk, and I have noticed that learning to assess risk in the sport plays into life, as well. I find myself paying closer attention to things. Skydiving has almost single handedly driven out negative influences in my life, whether that be people or chemicals. Funny how when you follow a true passion how much easier it becomes to let a lot of the negative go. I remember one solo jump where I tracked out and then back, feeling at peace and free, sinking into the skydive with every fiber of my being, becoming one with the wind, sky and universe. It was truly an emotional and spiritual feeling. In that moment, I was free and that single moment of pure peace and freedom was worth it. To get that feeling even for one instant is always worth it.
Skydiving has given me a reason to stay in shape and stay healthy and strong. This sport has made me pay close attention to complacency. In life and skydiving, complacency can and will kill you if you feed into it long enough. I take life more seriously in some areas and take it less seriously in others. All in all, skydiving has literally saved my life. I am a happier person. I am forever changed now that my body has become aircraft and I have touched the sky. I am forever grateful to this sport, Meadow Peak Skydiving, Skydive Oregon and people such Michael Pasque, Jacqueline Ambrosia and Ted Farnsworth.
Jake Jarvis | A-83757