I was on a plane when--somehow--the other passengers found out there was a terrorist on board, although no one was positive exactly who it was. The furious, terrified whispering among the passengers started. Unbeknownst to me, I was carrying a number of secrets vital to national security, and the flight crew had been instructed to save me before the terrorist took the plane down.
A kind flight attendant came and got me from where I sat huddled in a ball in fear, and said I would be getting off the plane in a moment and she needed to get me ready. "What do you mean I'm getting off the plane?" I asked in alarm. She smiled reassuringly and handed me a parachute. "But I've never done this before!" I cried.
"Don't worry. You'll figure it out," she said gently. "Just let yourself free-fall for awhile and--when it feels right--pull on the cord."
She stood me in front of the cabin door. I was mute with terror, and I was sure I'd never have the nerve to actually jump. Suddenly I didn't have a choice. The cabin door opened and I was sucked out: falling, falling.
I was startled that it was night--I had expected daylight. I looked down and saw my pale bare feet illuminated by the moon as they plunged into blackness below. I had always assumed that when one was in a free-fall, your thoughts were a blur. I was wrong, though. There was plenty of time to think. It occurred to me that I had never asked whether we were over water or land, and what part of the world we had been flying over. How high had we been when I went out the door? How would I survive when I couldn't even fathom what I would encounter when I reached the bottom? What were these secrets that I supposedly already knew, and to whom was I supposed to tell them? Would anyone even believe me if I tried? I felt strangely calm, and vaguely wondered how fast I was falling.
I reached up and felt for the cord. How would I know when it felt right to pull? Would it be a gradually dawning awareness or a sudden realization? I found the end of the cord flying somewhere up around my ear. My fingers tensed around it, ready to pull.