Pushing Limits

So, over the past few weeks, I've been doing a lot of skydiving. In doing this, I've come across quite a few "limits" and am enjoying how easy it's been to push on and exceed those limits.

One of the more obvious limits when talking about skydiving is terminal velocity, where wind resistance balances out the force of gravity and stops you from falling faster--about 120 miles per hour for a human jumping out of a plane. But that limit can be changed simply by adjusting body position (and, therefore, drag). Playing with this is part of what makes skydiving fun.

One downside of skydiving, though, is that you eventually have to slow that falling speed. As you might guess, especially if you've ever been in a car accident, quickly decelerating from 120 mph to a more reasonable fall rate is quite a deceleration. While modern parachute systems are designed to mitigate these deceleration forces, comfortable use still depends on user competence--something occasionally lacking when learning a new skill. Simple errors like an improperly adjusted harness or slight imperfections in parachute packing can easily lead to greater than intended forces being exerted on small regions of the body. A couple of mistakes like this in a row quickly causes bruising and soreness. Pushing through that pain really can help speed the learning process, though, especially when you try to avoid making the same mistake again and exacerbating the problem.

Another downside of skydiving is the fact that it's not free. Especially when first learning, with additional costs for instructors and gear rentals and similar, the cost per jump can be quite high. If you're not careful, you can easily run into credit card limits and disposable income limits, especially for something so fun.

That said, despite the benefits of pushing these limits, there are some limits I've pushed that might have been better left in place. For example, when doing my solo checkout jump we had a sudden arrival of clouds between takeoff and jump time. While a few small gaps in the clouds made it clear we were in a good spot to jump, a few large clouds prevented us from clearly seeing what was truly beneath us--a fairly thick rainstorm. Shortly after jumping, we started hitting frozen rain crystals. As we got lower, these changed into falling rain drops...but we were falling quite a bit faster than the rain--rain drops traveling at close to 100 mph can still hurt, even if less than the ice. And, even once under canopy, the sudden weather change meant that the cloud ceiling had dropped from well over 10,000 feet to under 2,000 feet and only proper jump planning and a bit of luck left me in the right place for landing, even with the high winds that had brought in the clouds to start with. Definitely an interesting and fun experience, but likely one limit I should have considerably more experience before pushing again.

The final limit I pushed here, though, is my posting timeframe limit--I've been sitting on this post for over two weeks now. Hopefully not a limit I get in the habit of pushing. And hopefully my rush to get this out hasn't overly degraded the quality...