"I wish the world could see what I see.
Sometimes you have to go up really high
to understand how small you are…I'm coming home now."
~ Felix Baumgartner, his last words before jumping from the edge of space
Felix Baumgartner is a madman. Gulping buckets of adrenaline, he wriggled free from techno coccoon to unfurl limb and life, and rocket his way into history's tome.
Wearing a specially designed pressurized suit, Felix Baumgartner flew 24 miles from the edge of space to the plains of Roswell, New Mexico. Fitting, don't you think? Isn't that where aliens end up?
His body accelerated to 373/mps or 1,342.8/kph or, the language I speak, 833.9 mph. That's Mach 1.24 telling us the thing we most wanted to know: he broke through the speed of sound, the first man to do so outside of an aircraft.
And he lived. But wasn't he living just in the trying?
I think he might argue that both ways, but he'd prefer the former.
"The world needs a hero and today they got one," said his medical director, Dr. Jonathan Clark. Brave and daring, Felix risked his life to pursue a personal dream while collecting data that would benefit others. Self-serving in one sense, sacrificial in another.
I owe him a thank you. He gave me and my son an "I remember when…" moment, and this time, it was a good one.
We were crowded in Aunt Paula's den, the color of mustard and avacados and delicious apples, golden, and why do I think of food remembering her living room? I was only six.
I was fidgeting behind Uncle John's easy chair, peeking out from time to time when they landed. "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," declared Neil Armstrong…and it was.
Before the age of Star Wars and special effects and computerized animation and revisionist photoshopping, there was room for wonder.
It would never have occurred to me then, that this moment would be sealed in memory's vault; I wouldn't know this would remain my only recollection of Uncle John, who left the family soon after; or that I'd always associate kiwi and lychee with my aunt, who introduced me to these exotic fruits during that visit.
Peculiar, these details, attached to man landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have no idea the memories they fostered among their brothers and sisters.
I will remember it was just the two of us, but I likely won't remember why. I'll remember it was "that year we lived in Germany" but will I recall 2012? I'll see my son reluctantly tearing himself away from the insignificant football game he was watching, to witness this man's unforgettable step of faith. Will we remember how we marveled at the clarity of the picture? That technology could bring us this close to Felix Baumgartner? That we could see him respond to Mission Control and his mentor, Joe Kittinger's, simple commands? That we could hear him breathe?!
Will I remember Stephen was wearing the message "Live Simply"? A little thing I hope he wears on the inside.
Talking to my husband later, he thought my comparison to Apollo 11 a stretch. Maybe so but I'm still inclined to see how all these men risked their lives for something much bigger than themselves, how passion and dreams drove their actions and cast aside fear, and how, upon reaching their goals, their self awareness changed.
"When I was standing there on top of the world you become so humble you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data, the only thing that you want is, you want to come back alive because you do not want to die in front of your parents, your girlfriend and all these people watching you. This became the most important thing to me when I was standing out there." (Baumgartner at the post-jump press conference.)
Indeed…sometimes when you're really high up, you understand how just small you are.
If you missed this spectacular event, scroll the pictures below, or better yet, the highlights are worth 90 seconds of your time–
From Felix's blog—
VERY interesting related links:
The sponsor, Red Bull, has a wonderful site that asks and answers more questions than you can imagine: RedBullStratos.com
They also have a blog worth checking out.