The earth billows out acres below me, and as I stare down at it from the threshold of the plane, a spinning sensation propels its way into the very depths of my head and settles right above my eyes. Knowing that waitingone moment longer will rob every last ounce of my determination to jump, I gather a final bit of oxygen in my lungs. My parachute . . . yes, it’s behaving itself on my back. I clutch its string tightly, close my eyes, breathe a silent prayer for every ounce of mercy to be lavished upon me atthis instant, and fall forward. A fiercely powerful sensation breaks freeupon me, and I feel as if I’m teetering over a wind tunnel, a tornado. Myelbows bend naturally at my sides so that I seem to be in the position ofone who’s just landed into a belly flop. My stomach feels like someone isstirring it with a wooden spoon; it feels rather refreshing—a sort of release from all that’s been pressing down upon me lately. A few seconds remain before I’ll be instructed to pull the string. Ah, the earth is swiftly approaching, and I feel as free as an eagle soaring through space. Suddenly it’s time to activate my parachute. My legs drop into a standing position as I glide gently down towards home.