True and pure freedom doesn’t exist.
Here are my musings on the subject from a post I wrote in July, Life, Liberty, and the Freedom to Not Wear a Mask?
Life begins in the dark, repressive, free-less prison of the womb. After nine months of complete and utter reliance on our mothers, the shackles are loosened, and the chain gets longer and longer as we grow. Yet, we can never fully escape the restraints. We need food and water to live and we can’t be too cold or too hot. Our true freedom is squelched by the fiendish dictator of DNA.
The forces outside the body continue to stomp down on our “rights”. Loyalty, love, and friendship all serve as big bad repressors. We watch movies we despise because we want to build friendships and we say no to an exciting night out because our significant other has the flu. Being truly free would mean no friends, no marriage, and no job. Yet, we purposely tie ourselves down.
Let’s widen the spectrum a bit more.
A truly free society would mean no laws, police, or regulations. All citizens would be “free” to steal from grocery stores, coerce people to do things at gun point, drive like a maniac, pay no attention to health code, so on and so forth. It would be nice to believe that individuals would do the “right” thing to create the most aggregate good, but alas, you and I both know that would never happen; a Utopian society simply cannot exist, and “right” and “wrong” are relative.
We do not actually want freedom, rather, we want to be the key master to our own shackles and chains.
While freedom is an invented concept that is about as real as a flying rainbow unicorn, there was an experience in my life where I felt fairly close to achieving it: skydiving in Thailand at Thai Sky Adventures.
Enjoy the video 🙂 Note: Don’t get too distracted by my black eye.
January 2019, Jeremy and I bolted off the ship docked in Laem Chabang that we were working on and headed to Thai Sky Adventures. It was the perfect day to jump out of a plane.
Sky diving was one of those “bucket list” experiences, and Jeremy booked the experience for us as a Christmas present. I got him a $2 shirt I haggled for in Vietnam. Whoops.
I could hardly control my excitement as we arrived at Thai Sky Adventures. The line was surprisingly long for 8:30am. We were given a buzzer like one you’d get at Panera, sat at a picnic table, and waited. The other eager skydivers were mostly young Asians dressed in ultra stylish attire that was more appropriate for Sunday brunch than jumping out of plane. I was in athletic clothes, messy hair, and no make up apart from a bit of concealer to hide the black eye I earned after falling off a jetski in Koh Samui.
Finally our buzzer went off, and we excitedly went to waiting room 2 to do a little more waiting. The pro sky divers were middle aged British guys with faded tattoos and laid back attitudes. My guy harnessed me up and gave me the brief tutorial of putting my head back with my hips forward to make a banana shape while holding onto the harness. When I felt a double tap, I could let go.
Seemed simple enough.
Fifteen minutes later, 3 jumpers, 3 tandem pros, and 2 camera girls loaded up into a small Thai Sky Adventures plane to take off. As we passed above the clouds, everything below got smaller and smaller as my excitement built higher and higher. I had never been in such a small plane, and it was exhilarating to feel the small craft react to every turn and bump. I was lucky diver number one, and we carefully made our way to the edge where I extended my legs off into nothingness.
My stomach wasn’t heaving, I wasn’t nervous in the least bit, and the possibility of backing out left my mind as quickly as it entered. In that moment, I felt an alarming sense of serenity. Shouldn’t it be slightly unnerving to be dangling off the edge of a small aircraft 12,000 feet off the ground preparing to jump in Thailand?
The next thing I know I’m freefalling.
It was a feeling unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as I hurdled towards the ground at an impossibly fast speed with the wind blowing my cheeks back. The oddest thing was figuring out how to breath. The velocity was so high it made it difficult to suck in oxygen through my nose, and who knows what the repercussions would be of an open mouth. I felt the double tap on my shoulder and I let my arms flail about in the ultimate air belly flop. It gave me an overwhelming sense of unharnessed freedom and abandonment. I wasn’t afraid and my life didn’t flash before my eyes. My mind went blank to any thought other than the blissful physical sensation of weightlessness.
The 15 seconds of freefall felt more like 15 minutes before the parachute was released and we rebounded through the air to settle into a gentle descent back towards earth. My guy manipulated the parachute to do turns and tricks through the air as my body started to settle, and my natural response was uncontrollable giggling. As we floated down, we chatted about his 10 years of living in Thailand and my life on the ship. There was an uncommunicated awareness that we weren’t so different. We both live semi-nomadic lifestyles full of adventure, risk taking, surprises, and uncertainties. This odd, completely insane, concept of jumping out of a plane tends to bring like-spirited people together I guess.
I proudly landed on my feet and fought to stay standing as my legs wobbled with the lingering adrenaline. My entire body was in an uncertain relaxed state as my blood and fluids worked to catch up to being on solid ground. I couldn’t think of any English words to describe the experience or how I felt mentally and physically. Instead there was a stupid smile plastered on my face with interspersed episodes of giggling as I remarked, “That was awesome!”
Some might think that jumping out of a dinky plane in Thailand might be a bad idea. But thousands of people die every day from cars, heart attacks, old age, so on and so forth. That doesn’t stop me from getting in a car or eating the occasional burger. Socrates wisely said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” The obvious application is to intellectual thought and ideas, but it can also relate to physical experiences that evoke new chemical reactions in the brain, causing new sensations, leading to a different type of understanding. I love dancing because it allows me to physically manifest emotions I can’t verbally comprehend. Physical sensations are unspoken words in their primal, raw state that get watered down as soon as we attempt to verbalize them. Skydiving at Thai Sky Adventures gave me a feeling that can hardly be encapsulated in a page, and that’s a beautiful thing.
The experience was the closest thing to true freedom I’ve felt, and I suspect it won’t be my last time jumping out of a plane.
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