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  • Clarke Wallace

WHAT SHOULDN'T HAPPEN, HAPPENS

Everyone goes through it at one time or another. Wishing you hadn’t done what you just did.

Make one hell of a mistake and you could blow the whole thing. Apart from dying.


I was working for WEEKEND Magazine in Montreal some years ago; a supplement to newspapers spread across the country.


Pitching an idea is a way of life. It’s discouraging. You work your buns off coming up with an idea and it’s dismissed with a shrug. You don’t give up easily.


I handed a large photo to an editor. He looked at it shrugged and handed it back. Meaning ‘try something else'.


I was out the door when I heard him call after me, “Okay. Want to know everything about it. How it felt. I’ll schedule it for two weeks from today.”


The photo I handed him was of someone jumping out of a small airplane. A Cessna. Hands spread wide, legs apart. A line led from the parachute to the other end attached to the plane. Once you jump count to five. If it doesn’t open, count to another five. If not pull on the one to the reserve

chute.


I remember the guy sitting by the open door, his back against the console. I stood in the doorway. I thought of backing off when I heard him yell, “Jump!” Out I went.


I was amazed at floating there. Arms and legs spread out. A rush of air but I didn’t seem to be moving. Nor did I ever feel so beautifully alone in all my life. Until it hit me! I hadn’t counted to five.

I pulled the cord!


There was a poof, a jerk, my legs swinging freely. I looked 3000 feet down to the earth. What a feeling unmatched in anything I’ve ever experienced.


Author’s comment: Dropping down through space (see below) and loving it. I was supposed to hit and roll. Not try a stand-up. I landed with one foot on the ground with the other in a deep rut on the edge of the plowed field. No chance to hit and roll over, I landed standing up. Would I try it again? In a heartbeat.


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