After finishing jump school, my dad often jumped with a cargo plane full of young recruits. Looking out the back end of an airplane, with nothing visible but landscape that looks no larger than a model train set, brings such fear that many, if not most, are hesitant to jump. Little wonder, falling 1,000 feet for the first time can be a rather scary experience, to say the least.
Giving every soldier the time he needs to get the courage he needs to jump most likely would result in soldiers being scattered for more than 50 miles after the completion of their jump. To solve this problem, before the jump, the soldiers were ordered to stand in line inside the plane. The biggest soldier would stand at the end of the line and when the door opened and the command was shouted, he would start pushing. One soldier after another would be pushed out of the plane, assuring the every soldier would jump in rapid succession.
The first time my dad told me this story, I asked, “Where did you usually stand in line? Masking a smile, he replied, “I stood in the front of the line, so I would be the first to jump.”
I should have know the answer, but I asked, “Any why did you want to be the first to jump?”
“Because, I don’t like the idea of being pushed.”
Of course, I thought, the guy standing in the front of the line could jump the moment the command was given and thereby avoid being pushed from behind.
Taking initiative to jump rather than waiting to be pushed provides a wonderful metaphor for how we all should live our lives, even when we are on the ground. Standing in line, waiting for some big guy or some big event to push us into action only serves to set us up to be frustrated and resentful since hardly anyone likes being pushed. But for some odd reason, many of us catch ourselves waiting inline, waiting for the order to come, waiting for someone bigger and stronger than us to make us do what we already know we are supposed to do.
Pushing deadlines to jump, we wait until we are pushed to write that term paper that is due in tomorrow’s class. We wait until we are pushed by our own sickness to live a healthier lifestyle. We wait until we are pushed by a confrontation to complete that important project at work that should have been completed two weeks earlier. We wait until we are pushed and patience wears thin to clean up that mess that mother has stepped over for a week.
The price we pay for waiting until someone else pushes us into doing what we already know we are supposed to be doing, what we should be doing, is far too costly for our own health and the health of our relationships. By taking the initiative to jump before we are pushed, we relieve ourselves of that frustration and resentment that is sure to result.
So, go ahead and jump
Don’t wait to be pushed.