I recently posted a picture of some paragliders from a place at which we were boondocking outside of Salt Lake City. Flight Park State Recreation Area on Point of the Mountain is a popular location for those with parachutes and hang gliders. They take flight as the sun begins to rise over the mountain tops, and they glide with the wind until the sun sets. I enjoyed watching and capturing on camera some of their preparations, their struggles with the wind as they took off or landed, and their playfulness in the air.
Just a week earlier, we were in Twin Falls, Idaho and saw base jumpers jumping off the side of Perrine Memorial Bridge to paraglide down to the Snake River below. They prepped their chutes on a grassy knoll in front of the Visitor’s Center, which is on one side of the canyon next to the bridge, then walked to the middle of the bridge, climbed up on the railing, and dropped off the side. Some jumped, others somersaulted, still others fell off backwards. It was exciting to zoom in as they courageously (or foolishly?) made their leaps.
When I posted one of my pictures on Facebook and Instagram, a friend asked if it was me. At first, I thought his question was hilarious! Me? Paragliding? High up in the air? Yea. NO. Another friend asked if we were “gonna sail up with the eagles.” Again, “that would be a NO” I answered. I’m not fond of heights, and risking my physical wellbeing for some quick thrill is just not my thing.
It sounds like I’m not that much of a risk taker, that I’m too cautious and careful. But I think there’s a spectrum of risk-taking/risk-seeking, correlating with what’s at risk—physical, mental, or emotional—and with a level of trust. For instance, I don’t feel comfortable in physically risky situations. Roller coasters – no. I’d rather keep the contents of my stomach in my stomach than working back out through my mouth. Heights? Not a fan. I think I was pushed down stairs or off a cliff in a previous life, and I’m not keen on experiencing that again. Slapping sticks to the bottom of my feet to purposely slide down a snowy mountain? Ha! Been there, done that once or twice, and I have ZERO desire to do it again. I’m much more content sitting by the fire in the ski lodge, enjoying an adult beverage while others hurl themselves down the slope. And I enjoy a ski lift ride up, as long as I can ride it back down.
I have ziplined through a wooded area and enjoyed it. The worst part was actually getting to the ground after the final “zip”. Instead of walking down steps or climbing down a ladder, we were supposed to step onto a little round disk attached to a rope and let it slowly drop us to the ground. I had a difficult time just stepping onto it and trusting it would gently lower me. Being strapped to a wire high above the ground as I zoomed from one platform or another, for some reason, was not as scary.
But quitting a great-paying job with excellent growth potential to change directions in my career? Yes. Starting a niche magazine without any previous publishing experience? Sure. Working from home before it was fashionable? Absolutely. Or selling a profitable business, downsizing to a 30-ft. Airstream, and travelling the country for a few years with my spouse retired and me on an “extended sabbatical”? Why not!
Emotional risks – I’ve taken a few in the past with friends and lovers and was burnt in the process. I’m not too keen on making a fool of myself (intentionally or not), and that is usually the outcome. So, I’ve become more hesitant in this department.
However, as I watched a paraglider float back and forth easily and smoothly as if he was on a swing, watching the sun come up over the Wasatch Mountains, I thought about my friends’ questions and realized that I could and would like to try paragliding with an expert. I have stipulations, of course. It has to be the elongated parachute kind where I would be in a sitting position; not a hang glider where I would be lying flat with my legs in a harness. And I’m not going to jump off a bridge or out of a plane. You can just forget about that! Nor will I take a running leap off the side of a cliff. But I would be willing to be strapped to someone who knows what he/she is doing for a tandem ride, putting my trust in his/her knowledge and expertise, allowing the wind to lift us up to see the world around us from a new perspective.
So, I’m taking my friends’ questions as a challenge, and I accept.
Almost … when the pandemic is behind us and paragliding rides are again offered from the Flight Park State Recreation Area. A familiar place, with solid ground, on a day where the sun is shining, the air is cool, and the breeze is just right.