Christian is exactly the kind of person you want to get high with for the first time.
He’s not just enthusiastic about it – he lives for it. He knows the ins and outs of how it works, he’s been doing it nearly every day for the last nine years, and he makes you feel incredibly comfortable as he gets you set up for your first time. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he says. “It’s so peaceful. It is like a miracle.”
I’m, of course, talking about paragliding. What did you think I meant?
Christian runs RealWorld Paragliding in Panajachel, the most trusted outfit for soaring over Lake Atitlán in town. But he wasn’t always the go-to man for adventure in this gorgeous Guatemalan enclave.
Ten years ago, he found himself sitting in an unrewarding, monotonous office job in Guatemala City, supposedly set on the same path he would be on the rest of his life. He kept finding himself thinking “Is this all there is? There has to be more than this!”
Not long after, he quit his job and moved to Panajachel, the biggest town on the stunning volcanic lake, searching for that something else. What he found was his “miracle” – paragliding. He’s now been offering tandem flights for visitors and locals for over nine years.
As Christian strapped me into my harness and gave me a short brief on how to drag him and the parachute over the edge of the cliff, he told me he’s done hundreds of tandem flights. Despite his experience, I was still nervous. It isn’t every day you look out from the top of a mountain, knowing you’re about to fling yourself off of it.
When it was finally time for lift off, I took a deep breath and started pumping my legs. Christian yelled, “Pull! Go! Go go go!” Then, I felt the wind catch in the parachute and we were suddenly weightless, floating off the edge as effortlessly as a bird.
The feeling of looking down and seeing nothing but your feet and the earth slowly getting smaller beneath you is other-worldly. I felt like a ghost or a spirit, silently smiling down on the earth as the wind whipped in my ears.
As we climbed higher and higher through the clouds thanks to some of the best winds the lake has seen in months, Christian couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.
“WOW!” “This is incredible!” “Look at these winds, wooooooooah!”
It was as if he’d never been up there before. His excitement was so contagious!
We soared through the clouds and over the lake, picking up altitude in the thermals and then doing some acrobatic dives and spins back to earth. My stomach was tossing around, but I didn’t care. This is what it’s like to be entirely present, in the moment.
Christian thanked me for trusting him to be my pilot, and let out a “Wahoo!” every time we felt the pull of another benevolent wind lifting us higher. He didn’t lose his energy for even a moment.
After an hour of flying, we finally headed in to to land in the riverbed near Pana, and Christian screamed “Thank you mother nature!” at the top of his lungs. As soon as we gently touched down and he unhitched me from the parachute, he gave me an enthusiastic high five. “Wow! What a flight!” he said, grinning. “This is the best day ever!”
Isn’t that what I’m supposed to say? I watched him walk back to town with our packs, skipping with glee. I marveled at how much love he has for what he does.
It is that kind of enthusiasm for my work that I want. I want to start as many days as possible with that fire. I want to end them with that gratefulness for how I get to spend my time on this earth.
That is why I took off to seek adventure around the world and write about it. It may be a long road to build a new career from the ground up, but I’m up for the task, because I think the reward is worth the effort.
Are you looking for that kind of fire too? What’s holding you back from living a life that thrills you? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s motivate each other!
Let’s see how many days we can end with “This is the best day ever!”