Sunday, January 16, 2011

Skydiving & Beluga Whales

Life is wonderful - and full of distractions.
Aside from my awesome husband and super cool 19-month old son, I have added a new layer to my life by starting a new job. In June of last year, I began working at the River Center as an Environmental Educator. While I love what I do, this new commitment does seem to keep me away from many things I also enjoy - writing, continuing my education, quality time with my family.

So, I've decieded while it is still January, I can catch the "Resolution Train" before it gets too far away for the year. Part of that is to return to my former M.O. of embracing every day of my life. Why is it that so many people fall into the trap of a daily routine that does not make them happy? Everyone should seriously be able to love what they do for a living. We are all so different that every type of job out there makes somebodyhappy. A career choice will excite one person while simultaneously causing someone else in that same room to recoil and wince.

A good example in skydiving:

Person #1 (that's me): Skydiving is amazing! After a jump, I've got a bad case of perma-grin for at least a week!
Person #2: Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

I actually had that conversaiton with one of my favorite authors, Steve Alten. I was shocked to learn that a writer capable of bringing adventurous thrills to life on paper felt that way about one of my greatest adventures?! Not to worrk, I still acquire each new book of his as soon as they are in print, and have autographed copies of his entire published work. It is possible to share some passions with others without sharing all of them.

To answer the question posed by Person #2, it is not actually a perfectly good airplane. Jump planes typically have no seats (save for the pilot's) and even most of the instruments are gone; after all, you only need an altimeter and a radio to take off, drop your "cargo", turn around and land anyway. No IFR flying in those skies.

I took my husband skydiving for his birthday this past summer. That was my 3rd jump and the moment I stood up and unhooked from the chute I was already bouncing around thinking about my next jump. It's addictive and any instructor you jump with had better love what they do!

But I digress...

I have to remind myself now that even with work and house and family and bills, there must be time to have some fun. My husband is excellent at reminding me how life is only worth living if it is a fun place to live, at least some of the time. The "work hard / play hard" mentality is a great philosophy, and probably how many awesome things have been developed throughout human history.

For my birthday, I was treated to SeaWorld Orlando during a record cold snap @42 F. We suited up (wet-suited, that is) and entered 55 F saltwater for a training session with Beluga whales. I have loved these cetaceans for years, ever since reading the book Beluga: a farewell to whales by Pierre Beland (1996, Lyons & Buford). That was the book that inspired me beyond a love for marine animals and into the world of conservagtion. Before that book, I had only dreamed of being a killer whale or dolphin trainer and did not understand the dangers face by wild ocean animals every day. A full review of this book will be done eventually. I want to re-read the book with fresh eyes and research the current situation of the belugas in the St. Lawrence River. I hate to admit it, but 1996 was a long time ago and we all know things change.

I leave you today with a couple of photos from my experience at SeaWorld. Don't discount my simply because there is a goofy grin on my face, okay? I have decided with this new year that is just fine for me to feel and act like a kid on regular occasion - we are forced to be grownups, facing too much tragedy wihtout enough emphasis on triumph.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the playoffs!