our giant leap of faith
What does sky-diving, Hindu Mythology and Yoga have to do with Chiara and her diagnosis? everything it seems 😉
I was driving along Punt Road on the weekend when I noticed 7 skydivers floating down from the sky underneath their parachutes. I wondered where they would land safely amongst tall city buildings and crazy Punt road traffic?
I’ve skydived twice, my friend Penelope and I decided this was a good idea (at the time!). Pen and I met in Year 7, we were always meant to cross paths in this lifetime. She has been a very dear and close friend of mine for 25 + years, such a consistent strong and graceful person in my life. We’ve shared an array of life experiences, my gosh, I think we could both write a book about or teenage days! So not surprisingly, we found ourselves 15,000 feet high ready to jump out of a plane!!
Before the plane even took off, we had rehearsed the sequence over and over again on the ground with the instructors. Those three words sound so innocent: “one… two… three!” but when you put them in context, they can, quite frankly, scare the sh*t out of you. We rehearsed the sequence along with the countdown and finally when we were 15,000 feet in the sky we put it all into action. One, two, three and jump!
As much as we practiced the follow up sequence time and time again, safely on Mother Earth, I totally forgot what to do next. It’s not just a matter of woo hoo and jump. There is a number of important steps you need to follow to ensure the jump is a safe one, especially as this was not a tandem jump.
I wasn’t prepared for the noise and my senses suddenly became overwhelmed as they opened the plane door. I just about froze in shock, and I hadn’t even jumped yet! But things move pretty quickly up there, one other experienced sky-diver had already jumped backwards out of the plane giving me the thumbs up as he spiralled through the air until he looked like a tiny dot.
Okay Natalie, you’ve got this. I gave myself a brief pep talk and proceeded to place one foot firmly onto the wing OUTSIDE of the plane. The wind was rushing so fast that it was difficult to breathe, let alone balance on the wing. Then the other instructor stepped out behind me. So here we are three people literally standing on the wing holding onto a beam above our heads, while the plane is buzzing through the air. There was no turning back now, I was about to take one giant leap of faith into the unknown.
I’m sure the instructors saw nothing but fear in my eyes, they kept smiling at me (which looks kind of odd as the cheek’s move around due to the g-forces and distort the face a little) I don’t think I managed to smile back. When you’re falling at 200kms, there’s not much time to process a lot of thought, other than why the fu*k did I decide to jump out of an aeroplane? My teenage years had already steered me off into some pretty scary situations, but nothing really prepares you for the onslaught of adrenalin, over-reacting senses and rush that takes over when you’re literally falling through the sky.
We were falling fast, each instructor holding onto a tiny handle on either side of my jumpsuit, until we gave each other the highly skilled signal of poking our tongues out, which confirms that ‘Yes, I’m all good (not really I was freaking out still) and will pull my rip cord’. Then I prayed that all 7 cells of the parachute would open. . ‘One thousand, two thousand, twist thousand.. ‘ The drill was coming back to me and I was now in some sort of coherent state. It was a peaceful moment sailing down beneath the parachute solo.
Prior to parachute opening, something else mysterious happens! There is a certain sweet spot, a point where you can’t fall any faster, the point where you reach terminal velocity. Feels like an air cushion that keeps you from falling at a faster rate. It’s kind of like an invisible safety net, a giant cushion of air that supports you (yep sounds like an oxymoron considering I’m falling through the sky). To get technical for the mathematicians amongst us, this giant bubble of air occurs when a free falling object (me) achieves its terminal velocity when the downward force of gravity (Fg) equals the upward force of drag (Fd). This causes the net force on the object (me) to be zero.
And funnily enough, this is the space I find myself in lately since Chiara’s eventful arrival into our world. There is an invisible cushioning, that is holding me, yet I’m still falling into the unknown.
When Chiara was initially diagnosed at 5 months old, it felt exactly like those first few seconds when my body left the plane. I was falling so fast, overwhelmed with immense fear and falling frighteningly fast into the unknown. Both experiences took my breath away, hit me hard in my solar plexus and created intense knots in my stomach. After such devastating news, I just couldn’t process the information quick enough, just like the time when I first leapt out of the plane.
Months go by and you find yourself past the first shock stage, and there comes a point where you find the cushioning (the support) almost like an invisible force holding you. And after months of wakeful nights, full or worry and grief for Chiara, I find myself in that same cushioning-like space. Call it Faith, Divine, God – whatever you like. But it’s that deeper aspect that comes with the aftermath of life changing events.
The initial phase rocks you – hard to make any sense of it.
The second phase you begin to come up for air, and your soul drives you deeper into greater understandings. You flip in and out of fear, rage, understanding and acceptance.
The third stage is where I’m at now, a space where the initial shock is over, yet I equally live with it every day, as I attend to Chiara’s extensive needs and notice how children much younger than her are surpassing her physical abilities. There is not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of the shock of her situation. It’s like dual citizenship, it comes and go’s. Though if you are brave enough to see it, beauty can be found in suffering. It only takes an outpour of Pure Love to see it in action. We pour so much love into Chiara (and our darling Grace too), as do the many amazing souls that we have met along the journey. Where there is suffering, there can also be great love.
I’m not sure I will ever find 100% resolve in the fact that Chiara may never be able to express to me, her feelings, her words, that she may never receive the full range of human functions such as to walk, to feed, to go the toilet, to dance, to sing, to climb mountains, to scratch an itch, to run from danger, to swim in the sea. I’ve just about thought of every scenario possible. I’m not sure I will find the answers I so desperately seek, when I watch her suffer and wonder why such things happen to little children?
There has to be meaning in all of this, and my array life experiences coupled with a few divine encounters absolutely confirm this. Like that time when I jumped from the plane, there was a massive amount of Faith that helped me do it. So much so, that a few weeks later I decided to jump again. The second dive you get to free-fall for longer and nose-dive through the air solo, pretty cool and I loved it!
We all have to take giant leaps of Faith in our lives, just like in Yogic Mythology with the legend of Hunaman, a Hindu Monkey God, who is said to have taken one mighty leap that stretched all the way from the south of India to the Himalayas, in order to pick a herb that grew exclusively there in order to save the life of Rama’s brother, Laksmana, who had been severely wounded in battle. At that point, he wasn’t sure which herb to pick, and so he carried the entire mountain with him as he made another massive leap back to the battlefield. Impressive huh!
In that giant leap Hanuman demonstrated his love for Rama. His intense devotion allowed him to do the impossible, and this is the essence we can glean from Hanuman’s tale; power comes from devotion and taking one giant leap of Faith. And just like Hanuman, we forget that we are divine and can accomplish anything, even the seemingly impossible.
I have yet to fully accomplish Hanumanasana (the splits), but I have found a Yoga pose to work on both physically and esoterically for the years ahead.
Go on, take the leap!
“sometimes the only mode of transport is a giant leap of faith..”