It’s a known fact I hate to fly. I don’t like being so high up in the air, I think it’s terrifying that the only thing holding me up is an engine and some wings, the seats aren’t comfortable, the airplane food is gross, and I forcefully take Gravol to 1.) help me with my motion sickness and 2.) knock me out for enough hours.
That’s why it still shocks me I willingly (and expensively, mind you) tossed myself out of a plane at 12,000 feet in the air.
For a girl who heavily proclaimed she hated flying and falling from heights and would, never, never, never, why would I even want to do that, choose to skydive, I had somehow found myself plummeting at about 200 km/h to earth.
I still can’t believe I did that.
But I did.
The certificate I got proves it.
A cheesy-certificate that simply says I “successfully completed a Tandem Skydive in Taupo, New Zealand.”
When I skim through a lot of my achievements from my childhood that are lamely plastered into a Winnie-the-Pooh scrapbook about 80 per cent of them reiterate that it’s OK I didn’t place, it’s enough that I was a participant.
You see, growing up my parents weren’t the type of people who stuck my artwork to the fridge with mismatched magnets. My childhood isn’t filled with memories of framed awards, red ribbons, or gold medals (mostly because I was terrible at anything involving hand-eye-coordination and sports).
For the most part it never bothered me: I was the kid who didn’t complain when she sucked, because honestly I just embraced that for most parts of my life I was average, just another participant in this game of life.
It didn’t make me upset, but it didn’t make me proud either.
I felt lukewarm, submerged in some tumultuous storm where all I had to show was that I could keep my head above water.
And then one day my dad brought a copy of Faze to work, with my feature story on how I completed the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk, to show his friends.
I never thought it was something to fawn over, but suddenly, at the age of 20, I had become the three year old who “said the cutest thing” in his eyes. It wasn’t a gold medal or a red ribbon or even a first place prize.
It was another article about my participation in life, a simple achievement I could cross off my bucket list (one that I had never even considered in the first place). Looking back on it, he had always been proud of my participation in life like: when I was the kindergartener who read books to her Grade 6 reading buddy (instead of vice versa), when I skiied down a black diamond hill in Packenham one winter, and when I disappeared through US Customs to go to New Zealand.
It wasn’t much to show in terms of “first place somethings”, but to him it was a something. To me it was just, well, life.
But then it hit me.
Last night a co-worker of my dad’s e-mailed me to tell me how awesome my skydive was. My dad had decided to share my adrenaline-filled weekend.
I laughed when I read the message because of course he did.
Because while it was just the 92nd item on my bucket list, another notch of “participation” in my string of “nice tries” in life, to him it was more than a first place in a 1500 m race I could have shared with him (no Josh, I’m not trying to disregard your achievements – as your older sister I’m super proud of you!).
I am a participant. I have enough certificates and track and field ribbons that tell me that. And while I didn’t have a tiny shrine on the fridge, that’s OK. I didn’t need the confirmation that I was great at something to be proud.
I just needed confirmation I was alive, I was living, I was doing.
And if my dad is proud of those little things, then I’ll keep participating.
Red ribbon be damned.
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