How Skydiving Changed My Life - Wendy Jones

by Wendy Jones | C-42940 | Austin, Texas

To describe how skydiving changed my life, I’ll begin with why I did it in the first place. In February 2013, I sustained a complete ACL tear and three impaction fractures while practicing my other great passion in life, tae kwon do. The orthopedic surgeon gave two options: 1) have reconstructive surgery including a tissue graft followed by nine months of physical therapy or 2) never do martial art or sports involving legs again. The decision was easy, since a life without recreation is unimaginable to me. However, nine months with no tae kwon do, no gym, no sports, no anything except physical rehab was a bitter pill.

In addition to my body falling apart, so too was my relationship. I watched helplessly as my best friend, my l over, the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with transformed from a man with a good job in mid-level management, a company car and a nice condo into a methamphetamine-addicted homeless junkie. That’s not hyperbole: He was sleeping on a yoga mat in the bushes behind a church when he wasn’t shooting up, and no amount of screaming, crying or begging on my part could do anything to change it. I stood by him through every just-say-no afterschool-special cliché conceived: stolen money, totaled car, wrecked house, arrest, jail, rehab, arrest, jail, rehab, lather, rinse, repeat. He pawned the ring my daddy gave me for my 14th birthday.

One by one, my friendships fell away. The only thing more pathetic than a junkie is a junkie’s girlfriend feeling sorry for herself, her busted leg and her busted life. I can’t say I blame them; I’d become needy and perpetually depressed, a real drag to be around. It was without a doubt the darkest point in my life. I was alone and miserable when the day finally came, when the doctor released me from treatment with his blessing to go forth and activate as long as I wore an enormous hinged knee brace while doing so.

That was the turning point. Determined to wallow in crapulence no more, I cut the junkie loose and resolved to make myself happy and whole again. The process called for a life-affirming kick start. Enter skydiving. I made two tandems prior to enrolling in an AFF course, but skydiving had me at “ready, set, go.” W hat can I say about the unadulterated bliss of this sport that hasn’t been said before many times in many ways by those far more eloquent than myself? Nothing else keeps my mind so utterly and completely focused on where I am and what I am doing. Skydiving begat a personal renaissance, in which I rediscovered the joy of living.

Equally significant to the activity itself is the skydiving community. During the year that I fruitlessly struggled in a toxic relationship, forsaking all others, I’d forgotten how kind, funny and generally awesome people can be. If it’s one thing that skydivers are, it’s generally awesome. The love I have for my drop zone family rivals only that of my blood relatives. The bonds are unlike any others. I can’t believe my luck that I got to meet these people and learn from them and get to know them. They’ve shown me endless patience while teaching me the fundamentals of skydiving, packing, gear maintenance and safety. They’ve laughed at my foibles and taught me to laugh at myself. They doused me in W index when that scorpion got me. (I still can’t believe that works!) They hugged me and investigated my reserve ride (on my first jump as a licensed skydiver, no less) with sincere concern. They hugged me and wiped my tears during the ensuing meltdown. Then they told me to quit being such a wuss y and get back on the damn plane. In other words, they’ve tirelessly stepped up to meet my every need as a novice skydiver. For that and for everything they are, I love them all dearly.

“Think where man’s glory begins and ends, and say my glory was that I had such friends.” (W illiam Butler Yeats)

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