My friend, Ellen, writes a Blog at Braveheart Women’s web site called ELLENOUTLOUD. This morning she wrote about almost going parasailing. I relived the time that I did.
I was a guest of two dear friends. We were enjoying lunch on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. We lunched, chatted and watched as humanity in all shapes and sizes haltered up, took a running jump at the end of a pull-boat and went whooshing up in the air like a human kite.
“I’ve always wanted to do that,” said Brad, the more whimsical of the duo. “Not me,” declared Craig. I remember hims saying something about proportionate odds and car wrecks but I can’t pull it out of my memory with any precision.
Always ready to support the dream of a friend I encouraged Brad. “You should DO it if you’ve always wanted to.” Then came the phrase familiar from grade school.
“I will if you will.”
My objections were numerous. The most practical being that I was rather heavy at the time, out of shape and not fond of heights. Then Brad levied the stickler. The one thing that always trumps any level of my apprehension or fear. He quoted my own poetry to me.
“Choose with no regret. When we’re back home thinking about this holiday – will you be sorry that you didn’t do this?” Not only did I go but I went first. It wasn’t for bravado’s sake – I just didn’t want to sit through HIS flight anticipating my own.
Never mind the instructions were all in Spanish. Gestures helped. With little grasp of what was before me I understood that that I was supposed to run like a bat out of hades when they signaled, “GO!” I did.
The loft was exhilarating. The breathlessness of nothing substantial under me was other-worldly. Looking side to side at expanded bird wings was amazing. They were no longer surprised to fly among wingless birds. I was inspired to sing the Bruce Cockburn lyrics, “The only diamonds in the world that mean anything to me, are conjured up by wind and sunlight sparkling on the sea.”
As with many sublime experiences in life – this one was a contradiction. Because in the midst of all the wonder and beauty, I was petrified. Held in place by a very old seat mechanism and lines that began looking thinner the higher I got – I had crossed my arms in front of me and held the two lines in taut certainty. For more than ten minutes.
Did you ever, as a youngster, pull that physiological muscle trick of standing in a doorway pressing your arms as hard as you could against the door frame? And then, minutes later, step out of the frame and have your arms simply rise on their own out of sheer over use? Holding parasails reins crossed arms with all your might for ten minutes is a lot like that.
So when the boat circled back to shore and the ground crew was ready for me to reach one of the lines and pull it in so I would be directed down to the landing strip on the beach…I had no strength left in either of my arms to pull. I’d used all my muscle juice hanging on for dear life. I had no pull left. None.
The instructions were still coming, joined by a chorus of others, all in Spanish, yelling, “Pull! Pull?” Funny how the mind translates easily when it’s your safety hanging in the balance (pardon the pun). Now, instead of sparkling spin drifts I was observing the roof tops of the beach dwellings of P.V. Satellite dishes, hopeful gardens, outdoor dining set ups, some folks sun bathing. It even appeared some residents used their rooftops for extra storage. Who would know without the benefit of a view like this? The distraction of the rooftops actually did the trick. I was able to pry loose my fingers frozen to the lines and, with both arms, pull the line that drew me back to the beach. My feet came close toward the final descent to having more than a bird’s eye view of those roof tops.
I was grateful to have lost my translating capacity once both feet were on the ground. I am positive many of the sentences, if not most, involved pleas to never fly with them again. I heard no one say in their best marketing voice, “We know you have many choices when you are making your para-sailing decision in P.V. – thank you for choosing us.” Not one.
Later that day, after Brad had successfully taken his ride, we compared experiences. Brad announced mine was better because it made a more interesting story. He echoed Mark Twain and Lucille Ball’s sentiments by saying, essentially, that if you ARE going to have regret, it’s better to have it over something you DID rather than something you DIDN’T DO. He declared he’d remember this for the rest of his life.
The memory turned out to be a short one. Brad died less than two years later. And while I know he did have some regrets, not one of them had anything to do with para sailing in Puerto Vallarta. Not one.