The Ten Thousand Foot Descent

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.


A silver eagle gleams as it soars over the Australian countryside on an early Tuesday morning. Inside this majestic mechanical bird, however, I feel nauseated and shiver vehemently despite the heavy suit I have on. The aircraft gives a violent lurch, amplifying the sickness I feel in my stomach. I snatch the paper bag from the pocket integrated into the side of my seat, unleashing a technicolor yawn into the beige sack. “I have to find some way to get out of this,” I think to myself as waves of panic sweep through me. My grip on the seat’s edges blanches my knuckles. “Perhaps I’ll feign a cold, perhaps I’ll complain of a stomachache, perhaps I’ll--” my thoughts are interrupted as Ben, my instructor, steps forward and clips himself to my harness. “You all set?” he inquires as we move toward the airplane’s side door. Despite every fiber in my being screaming a resounding “No!”, I gulp and nod.

Frigid air envelops the cabin as a member of the crew slides open the sizable door. Gusts of chilly wind hammer me and Ben as we step onto the ledge. I scrunch my eyes tightly shut and hold my breath, my heart rate exponentially higher than it was just a few minutes ago. “Here we go!” Ben shouts over the roar of the Cessna’s engine, as we...

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