Lexi Ashby AC'20 :: A Leap of Faith
Hi everyone! My name is Lexi Ashby, and I am a sophomore pursuing a double major in journalism and business administration. I’m the ADPi intramural chair and am also a member of the Journalism Chair’s Student Advisory Council. However, I’m a serial hobbyist, so I spend most of my free time playing guitar on my balcony, picking up random skills like slacklining, and hanging out with friends.
About three weeks ago, there was a consecutive 7-day period when I dreamt of going skydiving, and a rush of excitement would wake me up at 4 am. I get these feelings a lot – random thoughts will come to me and take up 100% of my mental real estate until I actually act on them. So naturally, I did. Call me impulsive, but I like to think I’m just in tune with my intuition. I gathered up some friends and headed east towards a little skydiving center in Palatka, Florida.
My friends and I arrived at Skydive Palatka just as I happened to glance at my Canvas and realize I forgot to take an exam the day before. Yup, a full exam. How does that happen you wonder? Honestly, I don’t know, but if you know me, you know. Anyways, we laughed about that, did some cartwheels to re-up the vibe, and walked up to the building. The building is 75% porch and 25% office. All of the instructors were outside, folding parachutes and laughing, and there were about five Enos hanging from different pillars on the porch. I always tell people that I love adventure sports, but it’s the community and the people surrounding them that I really love – if anyone seizes the day, it’s skydivers.
I had been skydiving one time before in Maine, and it was love at first jump. I remember calling my mom after and not being able to form any words except “wow,” until I finally informed her that she might have accidentally raised an adrenaline junkie. From that moment forward, I was set on getting my AFF License (the skydiving license that allows you to jump solo), but I let the everyday distract me from doing so. My experience at Skydive Palatka reminded me of my love for the sport and the importance of following your passions. The owner, Art, is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met – he studied aerospace engineering at UF but never went into the field because he followed his passion of skydiving instead. Since then, he has traveled all over the world and skydived in dozens of countries.
To me, skydiving is one of those things that reminds you of the true meaning of life and the insignificance of minute, daily problems. If I learned one thing from my time at Skydive Palatka, it’s that life is short, and you only get one of them. I ended up interviewing Art for a school video project, and he said one thing that really stuck with me.
He said, “When you die, people don’t remember you for the amount of money you have. They remember you for how you impacted them, your experiences, and what you bring to the world.”
I guess I like to fill my life with new experiences because with each one, my perspective shifts just a little. In talking to random people on ski lifts, airplanes, or just at the grocery store, for a moment I see the world through their eyes. Doing things like this reminds me of the importance of human connection and the true impact it can have on both myself and others. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experiences thus far, I’d say two things: lean into your fear, and the fear can’t control you, and we are all one and the same. Don’t shy away from meeting your fellow humans!