“If your actions do not prove the truth of your words,
Then your words are nothing more than lies”
Recently myself and a few other widowed friends decided to test the effects of gravity and embarked upon a mission to accomplish a tandem parachute skydive. The idea had originated with my oldest daughter; she had offered the idea during a conversation we were having. She had said it would be her attempt to conquer her fear of flying. Foolishly I had blurted out that sure, I’d jump with her and later, had mentioned it all to some of those friends. The notion took on a life of it’s own as others began to warm to the idea and soon plans were being made for a meetup in Chicago with the main event being The Jump. Inquiries were made, a skydiving outfit chosen and costs determined; a date was set and we all anxiously awaited its arrival. Oddly enough, (or maybe not so oddly), about a month before the jump was to take place, my daughter begged off, citing ‘a dream’ had come to her and she had decided that jumping at this time was not the next right thing for her to do…uhhh-huhhhh. At any rate, the rest of us forged ahead with our plans and as the weekend of the actual date came around, folks from other parts of the country began to arrive. We had a couple of days prior to the jump to do some old fashioned meetup things, see some of the sights of the city and enjoy a meal together and of course talk. Some of the folks had not met before other than on-line and there was much hugging and laughs. For me the meetups have proven to be a catalyst allowing me to expand my somewhat inept social skills and an opportunity to meet some of the very nice people who helped me early on as I struggled with the newness of my Journey. I believe these meetups have made all the difference in my ability to have Hope about the future and about the possibilities of a life without DJ physically being here.
Inevitably the question is asked: “Why would any sane person want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” Naturally, the answers are as varied as is the number of people in existence this moment. Personally, I have trouble with heights and have had a fear of flying despite having served overseas where I had more than enough of flying in both airplanes and helicopters. Even upon my arrival on the West coast, back in the States, I opted to trade in the first class plane ticket which had been issued to me by the military and chose instead to take the almost two and a half day train ride across country to Chicago. Since that time my reluctance to fly has faded and today I can do it almost with total ease. A meetup was instrumental in getting me to this point on the flying issue (1 Flew Over the WidowedNet, WidVille Blogs, September 12, 2012), and for that I am forever grateful. As for the jumping out of a plane, for as long as I can remember it has been a major fear of mine. Until recently I had no great need to resolve or attempt to deal with it, but after my daughter mentioned it, what can be my own worse enemy, my mind, went into action. It is common to hear among the discussions carried on by widowed folks that we have faced the worse event of our lives; many times we speak about how nothing could be any more terrifying than losing our partners. And it is true…I for certain know this is true for me. As I thought about that and the notion of parachuting out of an airplane, the question came to mind, having gone through what I know to be the worse, how can you be afraid to do that? After much pondering I decided I couldn’t be afraid, I just couldn’t be. I could decide not to ever jump out of an airplane, but the reason for it, the reason I would have to know deep inside would need to be something other than fear. So I chose to do it and in order to totally surrender to this idea that fear could not rule in this matter, I also decided that all the stories of mishaps, accidents, and even deaths surrounding such an activity could not be allowed to work overtime in my mind. I would have to approach this with a inwardly steely but outwardly mild reserve and make it an oh, so matter-of-fact undertaking.
Now, I should point out that these are just my musings on why I did such a thing and the fact is I may really be insane…but who’s to say? Picking up steam, my mind really began to generate other ideas; perhaps, in order to not only be free of this particular fear, maybe this could be the foundation upon which could be sat another building block of changed Fred’s life. This particular block representing my attempt to have my actions prove the truth of any words I might speak, else those words be lies. It is a curious notion that has plagued me for some time, and I wanted to use it in moving forward knowing I have the opportunity to redevelop my attitudes, opinions and actions all in the very different light of DJ’s death. This now comes down not to what others might think, not to what any mass survey might show as some percentile believing and acting this or that way, no, it comes right down to me and what I think of me. Not in what any words others might have to say about me, but what I say to me, in those quiet times when myself must be met and the truth laid bare. I think I should make it clear here that this is not an attempt to declare myself in training for sainthood, no, far from it; I simply want to make it a point to have my actions actually prove I mean what I might say. Perhaps I have put too much into this, over thought it to exhaustion, I really don’t know; some folks tell me I think too much and that may well be true; I do know this is what coming to terms with the idea of jumping from a airplane led me to think. In my mind, I had said that watching DJ die was the worse and most terrifying thing that had ever happened to me to this point in my life and everything else paled in comparison. If those words are to be proven true for me, then my actions have to reflect that and in my mind, that reflection does not allow for me to say to myself I can’t parachute out of a plane or do anything else because I fear the results, I have already seen the worse...so I jumped. Of course I imagine I could have also attempted to cross the local freeway blindfolded in order to make the point, I'm not sure...
By the day of the event I had pretty much come to terms with the idea of jumping, my reasons for doing it having been examined to the nth degree, were placed in a safe place in my mind and I was at relative peace about it all. It would help me to put some context to the notion about words, truths and actions and I was able to concentrate on how to enjoy the experience. Of course, aside from the rumblings of my moody mind, there are those very real and practical things surrounding all of this. Things which have nothing to do with the dubious thoughts and possibly skewed reasoning of some widowed man’s mind. The jump itself was, for me, breathtaking and thrilling, in that order; I do not know the adequate adjectives to convey the experience so those two words will have to do. If I were better with words perhaps I could describe feeling of being hooked to a Jump Instructor and kneeling at the door of an airplane as the wind whips your goggled face, waiting to exit…any attempts to articulate the tremendous range of emotions which I experienced just prior to leaving the plane would fall short I am sure. I believe it’s one of those events which must be personally experienced to be fully appreciated, much like the loss of our partners. I can say this; beyond some natural anxiety about the unknown, and the very reasonable (I think) realization that might go through anyone’s mind ("I’m getting ready to jump out of a #[email protected][email protected]##!!G airplane!!"), I can honestly say, fear did not make an appearance. Racing thoughts, anticipation, excitement and even a bit of nausea were present, but not fear.
It should be kept in mind that this particular activity tho presumably more risky than some others, is really quite commonplace and done by most I’m sure without the personal mental aspects I have attributed to my own experience in doing it. But I do believe it is a very personal undertaking nonetheless. Extending the idea of making our words our truths through are actions may not be limited to just our experience in losing our partners. Expanding it to become a basic tenet of my own life going forward is a conscious decision I am making in order to have some measure of peace about myself in the different life. I am coming to believe that some parts of the past life have to come with us as we move along the Journey; there are many things which served us well and should not be forgotten or left behind. But simply because we are changed, because we are different, there are some things I think we have to create differently. Perhaps I put too much into these things; work too hard to ascribe some deep cerebral meaning to things which may well be best taken at face value, as I said, I really don't know. I think I tend to go where my thoughts lead me and I was brought to these words by this event. Trying to make my words translate into truths by my actions is my attempt to approach the different life with Hope; Hope that we can make the days meaningful, not only to ourselves, but others also, the Hope that we can remember that we are all human and subject to the shortcomings inherent in that status, Hope that our ability to turn our sails into the winds of change will stand fast and despite the sometimes turbulent emotional seas we might find, we can also come to know we are up to the task and yes, even Hope for the truly quiet times when we counsel ourselves, that we will not be too harsh with our missteps or over praise ourselves for having done the next right things. Hope that the fears we have, those deep troubling, private fears which disturb our sleep and keep us anxious for what, we know not, will not maintain a grip on our clearer thinking and better judgement. Hope that we can come to really believe that we have and can use the opportunity to make our words our truths, and that those truths will be proven by our actions.