No Waste

By
I watched the ground retreat as our airplane leaped from the earth, quickly climbing into the sky. I chewed my lip, looking down at the doll-sized houses and a living map of my world. I’m not going to lie. I was scared.

We leveled out about ten minutes later, ending our steep ascent into thinner air. Alex checked her equipment in front of me, bumping my leg as she moved. Steve adjusted his helmet and gloves to my left, as Danny pointed out Mt. Hood on my right. I nodded - I couldn’t speak. The captain shouted, “All clear,” and the guy closest to the door whipped it open. I quickly swallowed my first taste of oxygen at 14,000 feet, and felt my heart skip a beat. Everyone was busy with something: checking gear, bonking hands in good luck shakes, and winking at me as I nervously played with the zipper on my bright blue jumpsuit. “It’s going to be great,” they said reassuringly, “you’ll love it!”

Alex jumped, then Steve. I crawled closer and closer to the door, a door that led out to 14,000 feet of clear air, of nothingness until the reality of Earth. I felt afraid. I thought of everything at once but at the same time, my mind was clear. Danny gave me the thumbs up and yelled over the engine “Are you ready to fly?”

I would never have done it a few years ago. Before my very best friend moved 3,000 miles away. Before Casey was diagnosed with cancer at the sweet, sweet age of sixteen. Before I watched a friend beat an addiction no one ever thought he’d break. Before everything that has made me into the human being I am today. I never noticed that life has an end. I never saw that we won’t be here forever. I could never see that good times won’t always be good, and that bad times won’t always be bad either.

But then I watched a human heart beat on an operating table, three feet from my own. I had to stop a friend from taking her life. I saw a community come together after the best bassist I know became a quadriplegic. I traveled to Hong Kong and discovered a new world. I broke when my friend Cason was killed in an accident that no one saw coming. And so I learned. The poignancy of life. That the finish line could be right around the corner, and that the glory comes from how you run your race. I learned that it is a beautiful thing to wake up in the morning, to be alive. To dance. To cry on a friend’s shoulder. Just to be.

And so I jumped. I flung myself out of the airplane and into the sky, jumping into oblivion, the unknown, life. I fell, but I soared and I flew. I was free somehow, falling through space and time back to the Earth. I arched my body and thrust my hips, spreading my arms to either horizon. I looked and I saw. I found hope and grace and love as I gasped for air. Life hit me in the face. It whistled in my nose and made me squint my eyes as I zoomed in closer and closer. I felt every emotion in the same exact instant and dissolved into the atmosphere, freefalling, freefalling, freefalling.

This, this intense, immediate rush of adrenaline and emotion and life gave me strength and hope and immense gratitude for being alive. For everything and everyone who has entered my life and made an impact on me. For living. For physical safety. Those seconds on that chilly day in October are my life. I live in the here and now because that is where we are. The only guarantee is the seconds that exist in the present. I take each day and make something beautiful out of it because I know that there’s no time to waste. There’s no time to waste.





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