As a dancer, I always believed I could fly. No matter how I was feeling, or if I was having a bad day, dance always set me free.
There was no other feeling that could compare to dancing. In a way, I had been looking for something that could make me feel as alive and weightless. For the longest time I thought that traveling might have been a convenient fix, but I was wrong – and I’m glad I was.
There were numerous aspects of Austria that I was excited about: Surrounding myself with beautiful nature, camping, and practicing my German. Though I was most excited about paragliding! To be completely honest, I can’t give anyone an exact reason why I decided to do something so daring. Its embarrassing but I have had this severe fear of falling for the longest time. I still cringe at my four-year old self being too afraid to dive off the diving board in swim class, and I still cause a scene in the library every time I sit on a chair where the back is too far. I guess it must have been my travelers’ mentality or shear insanity (or both) that made me sign the dotted line. I knew at that moment there was no turning back from this commitment. I was going to kick fear in the ass and fly!
After a six-hour drive, we finally reached the beautiful city of Tyrol. Shortly after we reached our campsite and set down our stuff, it began to rain. HARD. If there was one thing Austria taught me, it was that the weather can be as moody as it wants to be, and you’d better be ready because if not… you’re going to get wet. I was so worried that the paragliding center would be closed because of the weather. My friends and I decided wait it out and go paragliding the next day.
The next day we woke up to gray and cloudy weather. However, it wasnt raining! Paragliding was still happening! I suddenly became overwhelmed with excitement (and probably nerves too) that I wore this ridiculously cheeky smile all the way from our campsite to the paragliding area.
The paraglider who would be taking me was named Max. We quickly chatted in German (he told me my German was wonderful :D) and we quickly made out way to the gliding point. The gliders kept assuring us that even though the point was foggy, we would still be able to see the city and all of its glory.
When we finally reached the top, we had a few minutes to wait for the guys to get the parachutes ready. I found my self surrounded in one of the cutest little farms that I had ever seen. Frankly, I didn’t expect to find any animals on such high altitudes, but I guess surprises are one of the many things Tyrol has to offer.
Max began giving telling me everything he needed me to do in order to successfully take off. These commands were to run as fast as I could and to never stop running, even if I was in the air. Although I understood him, my heart dropped at the hindsight thought of my less than stellar achievements in my German class. Did I hear him correctly? What if I heard him wrong and I get us killed? All I could think about in that moment was that if something went wrong and I died, I would do everything I could to haunt my German professors. Then, I had another realization… I might have spent my last waking thought thinking about my German professors!! The things nerves do to a person! Before I knew it Max was telling me that it was time that I start running toward the edge of the cliff. My years of high school cross-country certainly came in handy. So much so that I outran Max! Soon my feet were off the ground and for the first time in forever, I was flying!!!
Being up in the air was absolutely incredible. There are no words that could explain the feeling. I was still smiling. This time for absolute joy!
When he told me to let go of my straps and soar the skies, I was extremely reluctant. I didn’t want to fall. I did it regardless, feeling like if this was where my life ended, I would want to feel the feeling of absolute freedom.
I obviously did not die. I am glad I didn’t – I would not have been able to recount this experience if I did. The view of the city was surreal. I could not have asked for a more perfect view. This isn’t the view one can get from a hotel, or even see on a plane. This is a view that only pure adventure could buy, and it takes breaking free from one’s comfort zone to get to such a destination.
Before I knew it, we were back on the ground. I hadn’t realized it but we had been up there a full 15 minutes! It felt short, but necessary. Something I wish I did differently was to have taken some motion sickness pills before paragliding. While I had an amazing ride through the skies, this ride came with a lot of twists and turns, which left me puking in the washrooms from motion sickness. Also a bit of sunscreen would have prevented the small, but noticeable, sunburn on my cheeks. However I didn’t care, in fact I took it as a welcoming gesture from the sun. For I have found a new love in life! I want to be up in the air for as much as possible and feel the rush of flying!
I left Tyrol with the peace of mind of knowing that there really is something (apart from dance) that sets my soul free. In a sense, I always knew I could fly, but it was the whole concept of gravity that kept pulling me down. Though gravity wont stop, there is a point where gravity and man meet – the sky.