Several years ago, I began using “writing prompts” to develop my writing skills. I don’t always use them, but have found they’re also a fun, useful exercise to help me prepare for the empty nest years. They prompt me to think about different scenarios and ideas far removed from my comfort zone, and through them I’m discovering new parts of myself. A few weeks back, “Would you rather go bungee jumping or skydiving?” was the writing prompt that appeared on “Plinky.” I read it, re-read it, then read it again. With each pass, my stomach dropped. Of course, I have crossed tall bridges in a car and on a train, but I didn’t like it. And, though I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and several campaniles, I’ve never once been tempted to jump. I really, really hate heights. I’m fine getting up there, just don’t ask me to look down. I don’t even like to look down from the top of a ladder. I’m kind of a wimp that way. Nonetheless, I calmed my stomach and pondered the writing prompt.
Bungee jumping, I decided would be too rough on my back. I fractured two vertebrae years ago and see no reason to test the limits of my healed injury. And, though I like swimming, I don’t favor the idea of plunging into the freezing water rushing below the bridge I
was pushed had (foolishly) jumped from. Plus, I couldn’t get past the idea I might end up permanently brain damaged because the cord recoiled at a ridiculous speed and I hit my head against the bridge. I thought about the guilt my loved ones would (hopefully) feel if I died when the rope broke right before their eyes (because I was too vain to disclose my real weight on the liability release forms.) Nope, couldn’t do it. Bungee jumping wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.
And, as much as I love the fantasy of skydiving, I don’t see it ever happening outside of the local “indoor skydiving” center, but I gave it consideration. The idea of standing in the open doorway of a plane seems wrong on so many levels to begin with, but the idea of jumping out of plane at roughly 13,000 feet above the ground is my definition of insanity. It doesn’t matter to me that first dives are usually made with an experienced, “tandem-diver.” The control freak in me would struggle to be in charge of my death. A skydiver falls at a rate of around 115 mph for just over a minute before pulling their ‘chute open. I tried to visualize myself in that position and finally thought, “Hmmm, wind blowing in my face so hard and fast, I can’t breathe while watching the ground laugh at my plummeting body. Nope, skydiving isn’t going to happen either.” And, that little visualization exercise certainly didn’t help my stomach.
I sat and looked at the question on my screen. “Stupid question,” I thought, “That’s like asking would you rather die by hanging or guillotine?” That was never a writing prompt, but I wouldn’t have to visualize those to know my answer. (Uh, neither!) Besides, a better prompt might have been, “How is motherhood like bungee jumping or skydiving?” Trust me, that one would have generated pages in response, without the nausea.
I didn’t write about the prompt that day. By the time I was done brainstorming, my stomach was too upset. As I closed my laptop, I thought, “Well, it wasn’t time wasted. I learned I won’t be adding bungee jumping or skydiving to my bucket list anytime soon. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I reach the empty nest years, but I doubt it. Seems I already did both when I became a mother.”
How about you? Bungee jumping or skydiving?