On the philosophy of skydiving

Two weeks ago, I jumped out of a plane from 13,000 feet above land.

This was my third skydive, but the first time I felt no jittery nerves. It was just pure, unadulterated presence. As I jumped from the plane with a gentle nudge from my tandem instructor, what started as an adventure in seeking thrills quickly turned into a dive into the surreal calm of the present.

In so many ways, the experience mirrored key themes of my self-exploration journey this year — stepping out of my comfort zone, embracing uncertainty, and even temporarily surrendering control.

I’ve made meditation a daily practice, but this jump was the ultimate lesson in mindfulness with a total immersion in the present. Time seemed to bend and the usual chattering in my head faded into the background. This wasn’t just a physical free fall but a plunge into a state of consciousness where only the current second mattered.

Even as the parachute unfurled, this dance with the present continued. It wasn’t yet time for contemplation but a continuation of the flow state, albeit at a more relaxed pace than the 120 mph fall. The descent was a strangely tranquil experience. I felt a milder version of the overview effect — reported by astronauts who have viewed our planet from outer space. I can only describe it as a state of awe coupled with a deep appreciation for what we have here on Earth, including the marvels of modern technology.

When we finally touched down, there was a sense of returning from a different realm. I wondered how I could carry back the complete immersion and gratitude from moments ago into everyday life. What could I do to engage with relatively mundane moments in life in a way that feels like time stands still?

If skydiving was a philosophical practice, its purpose would be to discover the art of living in the moment, understand the balance between control and surrender, and embrace the beauty of the imperfect and transient.