It was as if no other moment existed. To be suspended in mid-air with only a thin rope of support on which to rely. I glanced at the world through pre-Columbian eyes and saw a flat, smooth earth speckled with mansions the size of dollhouses and humans invisible from so high up in the air.
After pounds of peer pressure, I had set my mind on parasailing. As a near acrophobic, I had barely had enough courage to climb a tree in recent years, let alone allow myself to be lifted above the ocean by a fast-moving boat. Curiously, the day had begun with a leisurely trip to the stunning rocky beaches of Nice, France.
A far cry from the popular metropolis of Paris, Nice emanated a clear relaxation that I planned on taking advantage of during one sun-soaked, June day. As we arrived to the beach early that morning, the first parasailing trips were underway. My immediate thought was, I would never do that
. Soon, however, a short while lounging and people watching on the beach had taken its toll on our ever-racing minds; my friends and I were up for something more entertaining. A stroll down the beach later and it was no time before I found myself strapped into a harness with my best friend, someone I would consider exponentially more adventurous than myself, literally attached to my hip.
The engine revved on the boat just yards ahead of me and my stomach dropped. But instantly France dissolved beneath me and I flew. Not a fast, airplane-like rush, but first a rough lurch, then silence. I became an untouched cloud on an overcast day, floating easily above the Mediterranean. To my left was the sea merging with the sky, creating an image only ever discovered by those few people who ditched the boat and chose to throw themselves into the atmosphere. To the right was a landscape I attributed to the work of Renoir. The vibrant blues and forest greens of Nice, the water, and the mountains beyond further induced the reality of this nonsensical sky voyage.
Freedom always seemed, to me, like an idea. It could be reached, even if temporarily, through hard work or visits to unknown places. It was all in the mind, or so I thought. This new physical freedom made the other version appear intangible. I now had a presence and an experience to put with an idea. So I drifted, more slowly than I expected, and watched the boats and large fish below as if a film was being recorded in my mind. Something so unreal became my reality in a matter of seconds and while I was in the air, the weightlessness of the breeze was my ground. I stood there, simply remembering. This was a feeling I could not allow to be erased no matter how many other adventures were to ensue in my life.
The flight by plane to France from the United States procured in me a desire for the future. My flight by parachute created the standard of comparison I use in order to optimize any occasion to come.