Mid-life Crisis

Skydiving photo of Larry LaBorde

As my fiftieth birthday looms closer and closer, I am struck by the fact that in all probability my life is half over (or more). I find myself picking up books with titles like 500 Places to Visit Before You Die. I examine my life, thinking of things done as well as things yet to do. I list my life goals, work on a life plan for my remaining years and sit down to plan six trips to take in the coming year. Yep, this sounds like a mid-life crisis to me!

So I ponder my life and decide I have to make a few changes. I need to do something completely out of character, look death in the face and laugh. And then it hits me. I learned how to fly at 16 years old and occasionally would run across skydivers at the airport. My standard line to them as a teenager was, “You have to be crazy to jump out of a perfectly good airplane!” Now, however, it seemed like a great idea!

I went home that evening and announced to my wife, Puddy, that I would be “jumping out of a perfectly good airplane” the following Sunday afternoon. As she had countless times, she looked at me with a skeptical eye. After thinking for a moment, she said, “Absolutely not…without me!”

My unassuming, petite wife has learned to fly; gotten a motorcycle license; traveled the world with me; bareboat chartered and sailed around the Caribbean (and she was the captain who had the bareboat certificate); gone white water rafting; ziplined through the jungle in Costa Rica; been my spinnaker trimmer while racing sailboats all over the U.S.; shot automatic assault rifles; driven big trucks; operated heavy equipment; born and reared our two children; and put up with me (and my poor dancing) for most of my life. I should not have been surprised that skydiving seemed like an obvious recreational choice to her.

When we showed up in Gilliam, LA, to meet with Bill Geaslin of Skydive Louisiana, he was pleasantly surprised to hear that both of us would be jumping that afternoon. I lost the coin toss so I went first. Bill explained that if we wanted to free fall we would have to jump tandem—two at a time—the first few times. I wanted to experience free falling, so I elected the tandem jump.

Bill helped me into a “flying squirrel” suit with a padded helmet then fitted me with a harness arrangement that would connect us together just before we jumped. I walked to the small Cessna airplane with Bill, our pilot and our photographer, and off we went. The climb to 10,000 feet, almost two miles high, took about 15 minutes.

As we climbed higher and higher, my little heart started beating faster. I watched the altimeter slowly wind up to 10,000 feet with butterflies in my stomach knowing full well that my appointment with Mr. Gravity was getting ever closer. Finally, Bill moved over and strapped himself to me, and we gave each other a thumbs-up. The pilot cut the power to slow the plane and Bill thrust the door open. The photographer held onto the wing strut and waited for us to jump. I sat at the door and felt the wind almost drag me out of the plane.

Bill leaned over and yelled into my ear, “READY?”

I nodded yes.

Again he yelled, “READY?”

Thinking he had not seen my head nod, I yelled, “YES, LET’S GO!”


I sheepishly realized that my survival instincts were in full operation and that I was hanging on for dear life. I somehow let go and out the door we tumbled. We turned a full flip and a half before I got oriented and realized that we were plummeting towards earth at a pretty good clip. Later, Bill checked and said we had been falling at about 128 miles per hour. We fell from 10,000 feet down to 5,000 feet before we opened the parachute.

The photographer was just a few feet from us shooting video the entire time until our parachute opened. The wind buffeted my face and distorted it so that I looked like a cartoon character. I’ve got to remember to put “face lift” on my midlife crisis to-do list.

After falling about a mile in a little less than half a minute, Bill opened the chute. With a sudden jerk, we were falling toward earth at a much slower speed. I looked around for the photographer and saw that he was a tiny speck far below us, still racing rapidly to earth. Oh well, he seemed like such a nice guy. Right before it seemed like he was going to make a big splat, he opened his parachute, expertly landed and took more video of us as we slowly spiraled down and landed on the edge of the runway.

It’s been a couple of weeks since the jump, and I still have a big goofy grin stuck on my face.

Bill ran back to the hangar and grabbed another parachute, put Puddy in her flying squirrel suit, jumped back into the Cessna and before I knew it, he was taking off again for his second jump of the afternoon. When Puddy landed she had a funny grin stuck on her face, too.

Ever since I jumped over into the second part of my life, I have vowed to make each day count. We just don’t know how much time God has allotted to each of our lives, and we shouldn’t waste a single day. While I like to think I have always lived a full life, I know now that I have been operating in second gear. Look out world; I am shifting into overdrive for the second half!

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace. - Anonymous

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Since 2001, Larry LaBorde has sold gold, silver, platinum and palladium for investment to clients in the U.S. and around the world through his firm, Silver Trading Company LLC. The firm also offers guidance about metals storage options. We love your feedback! Please email Larry with your thoughts about this article or your questions about metals or storage.

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