Inspired by the bucket list year of Joan Hess and the advice of Liz Squire (“Never pass up an opportunity to try something new!”), I started my own list of things that I’d like to do before I die.
Some things were added to my bucket list retroactively (complete an endurance ride) because I did them before I’d heard of the bucket list idea and because I want credit for every cool thing I’ve done. The number one item on my list (fly with the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels) will probably never be checked off because that turns out to be by invitation only. (If you have connections, please keep me in mind.)
Sometimes opportunity falls from the sky. As it were. So when I saw an ad in my local paper for tandem skydiving, I jumped (ha ha) at the chance.
It turns out that, just like top gun pilots, experienced skydivers have cool nicknames. When I learned that I’d be tethered to Danger Dan, I knew this was going to be a four-star bucket list adventure.
Between the inevitable camaraderie among people crammed like sardines into a small space and the fist-bump I got from experienced skydiver Frodo (I told you they have nifty nicknames), I had a grand time as I waited my turn to jump out of a perfectly good plane at 10,000 feet. And then Danger Dan and I inched our way toward the gaping hole. I am quite proud of myself for actually getting up to the edge and for keeping my eyes open throughout. Confession: if Danger Dan hadn’t shoved me out the door almost immediately, I would still be clinging to the door frame.
I have a certificate to prove that I jumped, but I was not given a nickname. Just as well. It would probably be 'Granola' or something equally tame.
While skydiving sounds like a dangerous and downright idiotic thing to do, it’s really no riskier than, let’s say, driving down the street. This particular bucket list item came to me courtesy of a fundraiser for the son of Deputy Keith Bellar, and it was appropriately scheduled in the month of October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Just over a year ago, Deputy Bellar stopped to help at what he thought was an ordinary traffic accident. In fact, the ‘accident’ was an intentional attack on a woman by her estranged husband. The abuser came out shooting, and Deputy Bellar was killed.
In that instant, while going about his normal activities, Deputy Bellar became a victim of domestic violence. His wife, his infant son, his parents, siblings, and friends all became victims of domestic violence.
If you or I had been first on the scene of that accident, it’s likely that we’d be dead or severely injured -- victims of domestic violence.
Keeping your feet firmly on the ground might protect you from some of life’s dangers. Keeping your head in the sand and pretending that domestic violence is what happens to other people … well, that’s just dumb.