You know the little voice I’m talking about, right? The one that, as you’re gearing up for the 5-minute call, sort of whispers, “You really shouldn’t jump right now. You should hang up your gear right this minute and go have a beer instead.”
I don’t know what the inside of your head is like, but mine has LOTS of voices. The loudest of them is Fear. As in, “You know, you really could die doing this shit. What if this jump is your last? Do you really want your mom to have to fly across the country to identify your exploded body?” Then there’s Doubt. “Are you sure you turned on your AAD? Did you cock your pilot chute before or after you stuffed the canopy in the bag? Are you sure you cocked it at all?” And Insecurity. “You know you’re going to fuck up your landing in front of everyone. I bet they all have cameras and they’re going to take pictures so they can laugh at you now and then later at home and then every day.” Self Hate. “You’re a fat piece of shit who isn’t cool enough to skydive or have nice things or be able to learn or get better or anything.” (I starved that little asshole to death.)
But this week I learned a huge lesson in trusting the little voice in the back of your head. Caution, we’ll call her.
I’ve been paramotoring more than skydiving lately, and woke up intending to fly last week. There was that little voice though, telling me to stay in bed. At first I thought it was Lazy Asshole: “Dude, why even bother getting out of bed? It’s so nice in here and so dark out there.” So Guilt and Fun countered with, “OK, OK I’m getting up. I’ll fly.”
But that little Caution, man, she shouted as loud as tiny little voices can. “DO NOT FLY.” So I listened.
I decided to do some light kiting instead and, long story short*, had a fairly intense medical situation in the field. I can’t be sure without a lot of expensive tests but my doctor thinks there’s a 99% chance a cyst on one of my ovaries ruptured. If you’re male or one of the lucky women who have never experienced this particular flavor of horror, the pain was roughly equivalent to, I would imagine, getting shot in the stomach with a quiver of poisonous arrows that explode inside your gut and worm around trying to find your soul. I can now say I have honestly prayed for death, which is something.
* If you think you might be interested in the long story, just know that it involved public defecation, exposing myself to the new airport manager who thought I was on drugs and approximately 58 fire-ant bites on one shoulder, with very big thanks to Gordon and Sandy for saving my ass.
Anyway, I can only thank fucking SkyGod that I listened to the little voice. I imagine the 15 minutes spent in the back of the ambulance would have been a lot more if it had ruptured while I was 500′ above the ground.
Some of the little voices are assholes you should freely ignore, like Fear, Doubt, Guilt, Self Hate and Lazy Asshole. Some of them are legitimately trying to save your life, like Caution and Wisdom. I still am not quite sure how to tell the difference between them, to be honest (I wish the asshole had a French accent or spoke with a lisp), but I know I’m going to try to get to know them a little better.
Are you on good terms with your little voices? Do you know exactly who they are when they start talking? Have they ever saved your life?