A Name is a Powerful Thing
I’ve been living a lot lately. I figure I don’t have room not to.
I figure I don’t have an option. I figure I have to. I figure it’s my obligation to the world, as a neutral chaotic person, to bring mystery to the world, much in the stylings of Amélie.
Part of this means writing more. But part of it means doing more.
I had written a couple of weeks ago that I was going to start doing something that scares me every day. I’m not so much actively thinking about doing these things anymore after getting into a habit of it. What I’ve discovered is that living off of adrenaline makes you say “no” to a lot less things and makes doing something out of the ordinarily less of a deliberated task and more of something that you inherently and voluntarily contribute your time to. Personally, I think “bucket lists” are for chumps. Adventures are meant to be had every day.
On Sunday evening, a friend messaged me on AIM asking me, “Do you want to go indoor skydiving on Tuesday?” Without hesitation or even knowing what this entailed, I responded, “Holy shit, yes.” I really, really want to go skydiving from a plane. I figured this would be a good test run for deciding how I really felt about it.
Historically, something like skydiving may have been approached with nervous deliberation. I read up on it a bit before going. It’s a 30-foot vertical wind tunnel (which you all may be familiar with from things like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) that’s used by professional skydivers for their training. When I showed up, a few of them were there doing rather impressive spins and contortions of the body that allowed them to defy gravity and drop from one segment of the tunnel into the other.
During the training session, they taught up several different gestures. Mostly things that communicated positioning issues like, “straighten your legs,” “chin up,” “bend your elbows,” but one was a sign to communicate “relax,” which has a lot of significance because if your body locks up in free fall, you’re going to have a difficult time making adjustments in your positioning. I was getting nervous in the training session. I felt an irrational sense of dread. The instructor signaled “relax.” I laughed.
We walked to the wind tunnel. At the door, you fall in much in the same fashion you do while diving from a plane. You lift your chin up, hold your arms crossed at your chest, and you… fall. Unlike real skydiving where you’re in a free fall for a few moments, tumbling around awkwardly, you pretty quickly get into position in the indoor tunnel. I’m sure if you jumped in from a higher point, it would be more like real skydiving but… whatever. My friend, interestingly, who was not at all nervous during the training, got somewhat nervous prior to going in. I, of course, was high-fiving the instructor, laughing, and smiling the whole time.
It just felt easy. No one makes it out of life alive (unless they become a full cyborg) so why hesitate to take risks? It’s so easy to run from what you’re scared of. Sometimes the people that seem the most adventurous on the outside are the ones who are scared the most inside… of being themselves, of facing their inner conflicts. I don’t want to be that person. I jumped.
On my second flight, I got to go up the wind tunnel and inadvertently did a barrel roll. The instructor seemed fairly impressed by my accidental trick move. But that cinches it. I’m going skydiving for real. I’m not afraid of heights. I’m not afraid of dying. And if I did in some odd chance of statistical unlikelihood end up being that one person whose chute and reserve chute failed on… well, I figure that would be an awesome way to go out anyway, no?
This goal also has some metaphorical meaning as well. A couple of weeks ago, I came to a very fierce decision. One that I have already shared with a few friends and have been met mostly with laughter, but mostly with acceptance that “That’s the Aimee I know.” A lot of stuff about me… I want to improve and am actively improving. Most of this is just letting the world finally see me for who I really am inside… a rather free-spirited and adventurous person.
I’m changing my name. Just my middle name. I think middle names are stupid. Mine is currently “Nicole.” It has absolutely no meaning whatsoever other than the fact that my parents thought it flowed well. No one has ever called me by this middle name. It’s useless and I’d like to own my name. In a few months, if I have managed to keep living a life of adventure and managed to shape myself into everything I want myself to be… I’m changing my middle name to “Free Bird.”
Why this name? I jokingly wanted it a couple of years ago. One, I love birds. With the exception of Texas’s grackle, which shits everywhere (and I mean everywhere), I get excited when I see them. When I was a kid, my parents often took me to the beach. They have a photo of me running through a giant flock of seagulls when I was maybe 3 years old. I looked ecstatic, free, and wild. I think as an adult I have evolved into the name somewhat. I’m free-spirited, open-minded, and, honestly, it’s really hard to keep me in one place before I want to get up and fly off 🙂 I don’t want the name to overrule my identity, hence it being just my middle name, a fun frivolous change, but… something that makes me happy to be me all the same, and honestly, something that people who know me well wouldn’t expect any different of from me.