Finding your people

Fun fact about me: I once milked cows as a part-time job in college. Before I discovered the world of skydiving, my life was pretty normal. Maybe 'normal' is not the right word, but normal for me. I had aspirations to become a large animal vet. Growing up, I read most of James Herriot's books, semi-autobiographical stories about a Yorkshire country veterinarian. With that lifestyle in mind, I knew Auburn University was the only school for me. Thankfully, I was accepted, and in August 2004, I headed off to college where I later secured my first job as a vet school dairy cow milker. 

I was home one summer and bored, probably because there were no cows to milk. I decided to touch base with one of my friends from high school. Her father answered the phone and informed me that his daughter was at the airport skydiving. Naturally, I thought he said she was heading to Scotland. 

When I finally wrapped my head around the true nature of her pursuits at the local airport, I only had one option, to immediately head to the airport. Upon my arrival, my friend excitedly told me that their group had an opening, and I could jump if I liked. Clearly this was fate. My dad loaned (gave) me the money, a decision I am sure he later regretted, and I did my first tandem skydive. My life was forever changed.

The very next weekend I learned to pack parachutes. I packed something like twenty-one parachutes that first weekend. My fingers were swollen from the rubber bands that hold the lines and my body ached from wrestling parachutes into tiny bags all day. I was happier than I had ever been. The stack of cash I earned that weekend put me one step closer to being a certified skydiver. 

Little did I know the influence this crazy sport and the people in it would have on my life. I was in love with the freedom and exhilaration of flight. I was enamored by the open-minded, free-spirited individuals around me. Skydivers are a motley crew. They come from all kinds of backgrounds. But they have one thing in common, a passion for living. Even if just for the weekend, these people know what it is like to live free of the constraints of society. These people are inspirational. They are what most people refer to as crazy.

They are people who sail across the ocean in search of Neverland. People who travel to far away countries to attend speed flying camps. People who live in a canvas tent in order to build a life they believe in, a life where a young girl can eat fresh food painstakingly planted and harvested by her father's hands. They are untamed by society, and I love them.

It is so important to surround yourself with positive people that inspire you. People that believe in the possibility of your crazy ideas. People who themselves are not afraid to challenge the status quo. I am lucky to have stumbled upon such a strange and amazing community of dreamers and doers. 

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing that you can't do, is ignore them because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

-Jack Kerouac