So, there I was. 5200 feet high, void below my feet. Arms and legs rending the air around me, my body hung on a wing. I was slowly descending, held by the wind, seeing the lake’s reflections sparkling, houses as dots on the grass, people as small as ants. Birds were my travel buddies.
This is the flight of a girl unsuitable for flying.
Let’s start from the beginning: last weekend I was invited by Dolomiti Paganella to discover their beautiful land. I’ll soon show you the pictures I took. Among the activities, we had the chance to choose paragliding.
Now. Can you picture that kind of delicate/shy person, totally unable to do extreme sports? That’s me. Well, I should say this is how I’ve always been described since I was a little girl. I was the one with skinned knees, ‘don’t climb that high, sweetie’, ‘no, you can’t ride a scooter, it’s too dangerous for you’. The one who never took risks because she wasn’t allowed to do so. The one who never discovered her limits because she never got even close to them, so she grew up with an ambivalent idea of herself: both incapable and all-powerful. That’s what happens when you only test your limits in your own head.
I master the art of holding back. Of thinking ‘I don’t feel like to’ just to avoid trying. I’m scared of everything.
So, what was I doing up there? When did the decision of breaking the boundaries took its chance?
When did the voices screaming ‘you’ll hurt yourself, there’s no point risking your life, it’s just a whim, you’re not fit for this kind of thing, you’ll regret it’ just stop?
Being in a group helped a lot, I have to admit it. Among us, some had already enthusiastically tried paragliding before, others, just like me, were both frightened and fascinated by the idea of a free fly up in the sky, hung on a wing.
Sit on a hill, 5200 feet high above Molveno lake, Dolomites behind us and woods all around, we waited for our turn.
We stared at the friends who took off before us, we pointed at those who had a stable flight as to those who were doing some stunts with the instructor (getting the chills…). And I still was there, wondering what to do, ‘meditating like a Buddhist monk’ Chris told me, while my fellow adventure friend Marta was already getting ready. With my red hoodie on, I had one only thought: ‘I’d like to be the kind of person who does these things, but I can’t’.
Don’t take paragliding as the only example. Try to apply this thought to other things: those kind of things what you’d like to do, but at the same time they freak you out. There’s always an ideal image of ourself that we long to and we nourish. We don’t always stick to it when it comes to everyday behavior. We betray it. Constantly.
It was suddenly time to make a decision: ‘do you come down with us, or you stay and fly?’ they asked me.
Some decisions come from your guts. I chose.
I do it.
What the fuck are you doing? You’re gonna die!
You’re a fool, you have a kid now, you just can’t do these things.
You’re a stupid and you’ll regret it.
And I am freaking out.
Then it happened: the instructor came (among them there was the World Paragliding Champion, just sayin’) and I was counting them to make sure all came back alive and safe from the previous flight. That reassured me a bit. Another reassurance came from the ‘weekend paragliders’ coming to fly, getting ready in five minutes, taking off as it was a walk in the park. No drama.
So I count the instructor, I point at them and say:
“Well, I want a soft and calm flight, and if I don’t fell ok I want to land immediately, is that ok?”
They pointed at a very young guy.
“This kid? THIS KID? How old is he, twelve? I want another one.”
(I later discovered he was the World Champion’s son…oops..)
Then I saw this guy, Manuel, and he seemed very relaxed and confident. I was right. He gave me the most nice, stable and safe flight experience ever. I was so relaxed I even started taking pics and video with my iPhone, together with the GoPro.
Paragliding flight is everything but scary, if you’re not afraid of heights. You feel so held up by the wind the whole time, there are no adrenalinic descents or acrobatic turns (unless you want to). I just loved it.
I was flying.
I was flying because I know my limits, I know they’re traced on sand. I can move them.
I was flying because comfort zone is nice and easy, but it’s what outside of it that makes life worth living.
I was flying because I am the fragile and insecure girl, not suited for extreme sports tough.
I am tough.
I had to go up in the sky to figure it out, but now I know.
I am tough.
In this post: Molveno, on Dolomiti Paganella.
Paragliding on Dolomiti Paganella was offered by iFly Tandem.