The ultimate lesson on living in the moment
We went paragliding over the Austrian alps today. It was the most exhilarating experience for so many reasons, but the most prevalent was that we were supposed to do this just two years ago.
The last time we were in Salzburg we signed up to go paragliding. We were literally on top of the mountain, minutes away from strapping on the harness when our guides told us there was too much wind to safely fly. I was terribly disappointed because this was our last day in Salzburg, and it felt like a wasted opportunity for the thrill of a lifetime. Needless to say when we returned with MFC and realized we had some flexibility in our schedule, we jumped at the chance to try it again.
We felt like the universe was on our side all day. We easily navigated our way by bus back to the same little town of St. Gilgan, we were able to book a last minute appointment for 10:30 this morning, and most importantly, there was no wind! We met our guides and took the familiar little cable car up to the top of the mountain, still completely amazed by the view.
We got to the top, set up, and lifted off. The run from the top felt like nothing; a few short strides and my feet lifted below me and before I knew it I was miles above the trees, town, and glass-like, turquoise lake. Karin, my guide, took pictures and video as she swerved in the air over the water. It was unlike anything I had ever done before – thrilling, yet gentle and peaceful, as we smoothly sailed above the world. I remember taking a moment to soak it all in, and really feel grateful and aware of where I was in that glimpse of time in my life.
After about 30 minutes in the air, we landed in a field with tall grass and flowers. We then waltzed down to the town with our guides, chatting about the experience. Soon after we started walking, I realized that Karin was not behind me anymore. When we got to the bottom of the hill we waited for several minutes for Karin to come down so we could purchase the memory card from her to get the pictures and videos she took of me in the air. She soon followed, frantic and guilt-ridden, and told me that even though she and three other people searched everywhere, she had lost the memory card on the field in the tall grass. I was going to leave Salzburg with no photographic evidence of the incredible flight I had just taken.
I was at a loss for words. My most prized possessions in life are photos of experiences like this that I cherish. How could I have just done something so exciting and have nothing to show for it? How unfair that Dave got his photos no problem when paragliding was my idea? What if people don’t believe me that I actually went through with it? These were the frantic thoughts running through my head…
Then I re-grouped and thought: despite the fact that our society, and our generation in particular, is so obsessed with photographic evidence of every important moment, we must learn to let go of these ‘trophy photos’. I don’t need to prove to anyone that I did this, and I’m certainly in no danger of ever forgetting that I did it, or how exhilarating it felt. We have to relinquish so much control as we travel, but also as we go about our daily lives. Grateful that I felt that moment of mindful presence in the sky, I was reminded that at the end of the day, all we really have to show for our life is how we chose to live it in every single moment. So in that particular moment, as disappointed as I felt, I chose to be brave and forgive sweet Karin, for her very honest mistake.
We continued on with our day and celebrated our paragliding adventures by having lunch and a beer on a terrace. I was feeling much better about things as we spent time re-living what we had just done, and crossing it off our bucket list. After lunch, we headed to the bus stop to catch the bus back into town and discovered we just missed it! Annoyed, we sat around and waited for another 45 minutes for the next one.
As I waited, Dave announced that he was going to walk back where we landed and take one last look through the grass for the memory card. I heavily discouraged him since it was so hot, and like looking for a needle in the haystack. He kindly insisted, as he often does when takes care of me, and off he went.
Not to my surprise, he returned after a valiant 30-minute search, empty handed. He told me he ran into Karin again, and she went with him to help him look, but with no luck.
We got on the bus and were seconds away from leaving when suddenly I heard in a thick German accent, “Is that Dave?!”. Karin ran on the bus in a sweaty mess and handed me my memory card.
In true Hollywood-ending style, our bus pulled away into the sunset with my hero sitting next to me, and my memory card in hand. Turns out, the universe was on our side.