Sky Fam. We’ve all heard the term. Sometimes, I even say it. But I turn my nose up at the phrase generally. Skydivers as a community like to pretend that we are all part of a huge Skyfam, some ragtag family that is united by our love of skydiving. And while I have a huge love for the sport and a common respect for skydivers, that general term seems a little short-sighted to me. While we all have a lot in common, we are all cut from different pieces of cloth. Despite our love of the sky, we are not all the same. Yes, I do have to have an inherent trust so I can go on skydiving. Otherwise, I’d be too sure that the rest of the people in the plane were going to kill me for me to ever even put on a rig ever again.
There are so many factors to differentiate us as skydivers. What’s your discipline? How often do you jump? Are you a tunnel rat? Do you fly competitions? Do you fly bigway? Are you a record hound? Are you all about the fancy gear? Do you dump all your money into more jumps, jumping a janky old rig? Are you a professional and a 9-5er to fund your skydiving career? Do you work manifest? Do you live in a van down by the river and pick up any odd jobs that’ll give you enough money so you can huck yourself out of metal birds? And that’s okay, because we’re humans and we’re bound to be different.
But search far and wide and deep and shallow through the breadth of skydivers to find your people; seek out the crazies that mirror your drive and motivation. Look for the ones that understand why do you the things you do. Search hard for the people that get you.
They’re not always close to home. They’re most likely very far away from being in your backyard. I met some of my very dearest friends in this world through skydiving. Some of them I text daily. Some of them I skype with every few months. Sometimes we chat on the phone for hours at a time. Most of them live states or countries away. I see them a few times a year if I’m lucky.
Don’t just look for the ones that want to fun jump with you. Or do, if that’s your passion. Find those people that share your love for your discipline. Find those that want to compete like you. Find those that set their own goals like you, stupidly high in the sky. So when you don’t hit those goals, they understand how devastated you are. They are the ones who will answer your sobbing phone calls and they will pump you up for the next bout. Look for the ones that can cheer on your success as if it is their own. Search for the ones that you unabashedly admire.
I’m a Colorado jumper, but most of my people are far away. I organize here, I jump here, I coach and mentor here; I love it here. But I lean heavily on the shoulders of my far-away people through texts and email and calls. I miss them and I wish they were here. It hurts to have my skydiving people so far away. Despite spending weekends at my home DZ, this deep, aching loneliness chases me around. I don’t think most people know that.