For the most part, every major decision that we make starts with some kind of stimulus. Marketers try to do whatever they can to get their product in front of you through some kind of medium (digital advertisement, billboards, signs, ads, viral campaigns, etc). When the desire to act turns into the decision to act, we enter what marketers call the Zero Moment of Truth (aka, ZMOT). This is basically when we begin to research the best possible solution. We’ll start to research our options by basically searching the internet or asking friends. We aggregate all of the data, funnel it down into pros and cons, and then decide on our best option based on what we think will satisfy our desire in the most effective way. When we’re ready, we move into buying or participating (First Moment of Truth, aka, FMOT) and then sharing (Second Moment of Truth, aka, SMOT). During that time, we fight off Buyer’s Remorse where we second guess the decision we’re about to make or have made. All of these applied during this past weekend when I decided to go Skydiving.
I would say that most of the decisions we make can be broken down into wants and needs. I’ve seen pictures and videos of skydiving. I’ve heard of other friends’ experiences skydiving. There is never a NEED to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for no reason other than to experience the feeling of what it’s like. That opportunity presented itself a couple of weeks ago, and for being such a huge decision, I said “Yes” much faster than I normally would. I’m incredibly indecisive. If you’ve ever hung out with me while I tried to pick a place to eat, you’ll know how long this takes me. My mom hated taking me shoe shopping when I was younger because it would take me an hour to decide what shoes I wanted. NEED decisions are usually preceded by hours of research, and WANTS can often take days. But I decided that this was the probably the one and only time that I would say “Yes” to something that literally contractually required me to sign a document that said I would not pursue any kind of action if I got injured or DIED.
Sharing this decision was also something that I knew would draw mixed reactions. I got a couple of responses along the lines of “Holy crap, that’s awesome,” and a couple along the lines of “Holy crap, that’s stupid.” I was somewhere in the middle.
We decided to go with a reputable company that had no deaths (according to a friend), which I guess is…comforting? For me, the build up felt like every other major decision. There’s an feeling of anxious anticipation that makes me wonder what the outcome will be like. That feeling started Friday morning and lasted all until the time we got off the freeway. Then it just turned into straight anxiety. We checked in at like 12:30pm (insert FMOT) and watched this brief video that looks like it was made in 1995, narrated by an old white guy who had a beard that went down to his chest. Like the kind of beard that makes you say, “No…come on…that’s not real is it?” I signed a 5-page contract that basically said I was ok with dying if anything went wrong from either human error or equipment malfunction. Then we had to wait 3 loooong hours, during which I watched a couple of teenagers from fucking Lompoc fold parachutes into tiny backpacks and seal them with rubberbands while they listened to rap music…
Our names were called out and then I started to put on harnesses that would basically be the only thing that attached my body to a man wearing a parachute. I met my “Body Guard” and he gave me a 30-second rundown of what I should do so I wouldn’t knock him out or jack him up while he’s trying to get me to the ground in one piece. I get in the plane, and the guy buckles me in. Then he decides to play a little joke with some of the other instructors where he starts unbuckling my harness. (Insert nervous laughter here…) The entire plane ride up to 13,000 feet was a combination of me psyching myself out and trying not to throw up. Then the door opens.
My instructor shimmies me to the open door, and I’m sitting at the edge of this plane with my legs dangling out. My instructor asks me if I’m ready (how the HELL am I supposed to answer that question) and then, in two seconds, he yells out “GO” and we lunge out of the plane. (Insert buyer’s remorse here…)
I think a lot of us forget what it’s like to be little and lifted on someone’s shoulders or launched into the air. It’s a different perspective that we forget about when we get older because it’s not really an option any more. Skydiving is a lot like revisiting this feeling, but from a perspective we’ve never seen before. It’s an incredibly strange feeling of “Holy crap, this is awesome,” and “Holy crap, this is stupid.” You’re literally falling to the earth, trusting a complete stranger with a giant piece of nylon to guide you down to the ground. It’s not a feeling that you get from a roller coaster where it sucks the air out of you. I wouldn’t say it’s a weightless feeling either, because gravity is very real at this point. You’re hit with sensory overload. You can’t hear anything because of the sheer speed. I could smell and taste the ocean through the dry mouth experience that you get from screaming while you’re hurling to the ground at 120 mph. Your entire body feels the fall, and your eyes are taking in an incredible scenery while sending signals to your brain that say “adios, life.”
I realized that, long before this point, I was putting my life into another person’s hands, and trusting that they would save me. Luckily, that happened, so I guess I can’t regret it. It’s an experience I’m glad I said “yes” to, but I’m so thankful that it’s over.
This is my SMOT.
Thanks for reading.
– The Lompoc Leaper