When Your Parachute Fails To Open

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Have you ever done some dangerous things in your life? I mean a really, really risky one.

Let’s talk about one of the extreme sports—skydiving.

Imagine you’re a professional jumper and you’re on-board a plane. At 10,000 feet, you’re all set to jump-off. Everything is just a routine as you’ve done skydiving over hundred times.

But here’s a big fatal scenario. What would you do if the parachute fails to deploy or doesn’t open?

Let’s say there’s an error or malfunction in the equipment?   Now you’re sweating and shaking. You have about 45 seconds to live.

Well, this is exactly what happened to Karina Hollekim. Karina is a Norwegian skier and professional BASE jumper.

Read: 7 Healthy Signs You’re Raising A Responsible, Happy Child

The unexpected tragedy

She was no ordinary girl, but can do extraordinary things. When she was as a child, she likes flying. To be able to overcome fear, like fear of heights or flying, is something fascinating to her.

She usually jumps with a camera attached to helmet filming the other. Just like any other jumpers, she was expected to land in a grassy field in front of the spectators. That day, in August 2006, her equipment had been checked.

Unfortunately, her parachute failed to open. The first thought that comes to her mind is, “You have to fix the problem—you can do this.”

Her parachute was spinning uncontrollably towards the grounds. The speed was about 100km/h. When her parachute failed to deploy properly, she embraced herself for impact. She hit the grounds – solid rock – at more than 100km/h.

And then everything went black.

Luckily, she was able to survive.

The power of staying positive

However, the fall left Karina with 21 open fractures in her right leg while her left leg shattered into 4 pieces. The result of the impact had crushed her hips and down.

She woke up two days later at the hospital. At age 30, her doctor told her she would never walk again. At the top of her career, her dreams shattered.

She spent four months in the hospital. After this incident, she had experienced physical discomfort and emotional pain. After all, skydiving is her career, passion and identity. With unanswered questions, she didn’t see lights at the end of the tunnel.

She felt sad and depressed.

Yet, she decided to remain positive. Her wheelchair became her best friend. Karina’s focus and positivity enabled her to beat the odds. It took her six months to put her socks on, three years to relearn how to walk.

Three years later, after 20 surgeries and hours in rehabilitation, Karina was walking again.  A year after that, she returned to skiing.

Today, she is back on her feet.

When your parachute fails to open?

Life is not smooth sailing. It’s a combination of good and bad times.

A parachute that fails to open comes in various forms: job loss, accident or tragedy, critical illness, investment that didn’t turn out well, marriage problem, death of a loved ones, etc.

It’s hard to find the motivation to focus on the positive side when positivity seems like nothing more than wishful thinking. In other words, staying positive is easier said than done.

However, the lesson from Karina’s story is simple: in the midst of adversities, resilience is a trait that defines successful people. Being resilient is the ability to get up and bounce back from bad experiences.

While our brains are hard-wired to look for threats and problems during negative situations, maintaining positivity is a daily challenge for pessimistic person.  In the midst of hardship, learn to reflect and ask these two questions: What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation? What is one opportunity within this adversity?

If you are about to give up, remember Karina’s spirit because beating the odds simply means staying optimistic no matter what.

When your parachute fails to open, remember that God is still in control.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. –Philippians 4:13

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Jun Amparo
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Jun Amparo

JUN AMPARO is the author of two inspirational books about personal finance and marriage.  He is nominated as Huwarang OFW 2019 organized by The 700 Club Asia and is pursuing his doctoral study in education. Presently, he is working as a university counselor and lecturer at Asia-Pacific International University in Thailand.