Posted on October 20, 2009 by Colin

Between You and the Very Hard Ground

 

This is a guest post by miss Annette O’Neil who runs Clever Ginger Creative and who splashes her colorful prose all over the carpet, walls, ceiling, etc. at her blog, Here There Be Tygers. Take a look at her work and be inspired; I’m a big fan.

It’s a lot like the first day of school, actually.

Someone helps you put on a heavy backpack, gives you a bit of grave advice, cheerfully wishes you luck, and watches you climb the stairs to get into the vehicle. You squeeze into a seat among the jostling crowd, every member of which is much, much cooler than you are. You fold your hands in your lap, and you look out the window.

And then you take off.

Skydiving is a funny thing.

The first time you manage to convince yourself to go near the door (basically, a gaping maw of sky that’s roaring with what seems to be hurricane-force wind), you have to speculate to yourself why you’re standing there. After all, you were the one who ambled up to the counter at the dropzone below, slapped your credit card on the desk, listened to the safety briefing, strapped yourself into the gear, and showed the nice instructor how nicely you arch your back for aerodynamics. You did these things because you knew that somewhere between this plane – thirteen thousand feet over a bit of very hard ground – and the aforementioned very hard ground, there was something you wanted.

So now you’re here, and there are some pairs of eyes looking at you (and the little green light by your head) rather expectantly.

So you line your toes up to the edge, give the handle on your pilot chute one more little tap, and here goes nothin.’ Whoosh.

The first few times you do it, it’s much the same. You think about it before you drift off (that thing that happened to that guy, when his gear acted up and his reserve didn’t quite take and they had to scrape him up with a spatula and a wet/dry vacuum), but you wake up wanting to jump. And soon, you always wake up wanting to jump. ‘Cause you and that guy – well, you’re different. And if your gear acts up, you’re pretty sure you’ll get it sorted before they have to break out the spatulas. And if you don’t? Well, you sure as hell got on that plane. And that’s saying something.

Radical lifestyle design is like that, too. When you start out, it’s a lark. When you realize it’s not a silly fancy and you start taking steps, it has all the playful look-what-I’m-doing fun of playing dress-up in a skydiving jumpsuit and wiggling into a rig. Most of us in the LIP community actually get on a plane to seal the deal, and it’s much like that first jump: suddenly, every glorious/badass/wet-dry-vacuum-manifesting aspect of the thing becomes critically evident.

It’s at the door that you get to make your choice. Do I live this, right now, and embrace everything that it actually is? Or do I step back, and live vicariously?

Here’s the thing about living vicariously: you can watch Indiana Jones a thousand times, but it’ll always end the same way. And you, I’m sorry to say, are never in it.

I have an idea.

Jump.