Sunday, October 14, 2012

Evil, Karl, and now, Felix

So this guy, Felix Baumgartner, goes up 24 miles in a module held up by a balloon with plans to jump out and basically plummet to earth. He wants to be the first human being to break the sound barrier along with jumping from a height at the threshold of space. My thing is "why?"

Then I remember all the folks who came before him like Evil Knievel and Karl Wallenda.. The former tried to take a motorcycle and jump across the Grand Canyon. I don't know how many of you have seen the Grand Canyon, but jumping over it on a motorcycle is impossible even if it's rocket powered. Well, old Evil found out it was, even though his cycle was equipped with a parachute. I'm not sure he broke any bones that time, but I think some statistics read that he had broken every bone in his body before he passed away some time ago.

Karl Wallenda was part of a family of high wire performers better known as the Flying Wallendas. They did stuff like walking a high wire across Tallulah Gorge in Georgia or walking tight wires between tall buildings and such. Karl Wallenda was the patriarch and he fell to his death at age 73. Wow, still doing high wire acts at 73. That's pretty impressive.

But my question still is, "Why?"

Why do some people feel the need to put their lives in danger. Is it for the thrill, the rush? Is it for their 15 minutes of fame? I can tell you that I don't have that drive, that need for a thrill that could cost me my life. The craziest chance I ever took was diving off a 30 or so foot cliff into a quarry lake when I was in college. I can tell you this. I saw the back of my eyes. I had my eyes open because I was scared sh&@*tless, but was bound and determined to do it. I didn't want anyone to think I lacked courage, and I was trying to impress this guy. I can attest to one thing. When one dives into water from 30 or 40 feet with one's eyes open everything looks orangy red and I swear I saw some veins. And now that I think about it these many years later, not one other person dove off that cliff. Who was the the real dummy here??

So, it's pretty evident that I am not a dare devil. But I think we need folks like Evil, Karl, and Felix. They make the rest of us ordinary people appreciate life a bit more. They make us think, even if we think they're nutty as fruitcakes. And yes, it is a bit thrilling to see it all happen.

I'm happy the guy made it safely to Earth and, yes, he broke the sound barrier, but what will he do as an encore...jump from the space station, travel the speed of light? That's a thought.  


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