This week we marked 3 years since Felix Baumgartner stepped out of a space capsule and skydived through the stratosphere. I had not intended to watch the event, I didn’t even know it was happening. I was in a media and communications blackout, holed up far away and studying for my Canadian Chartered accountancy equivalency exams. It was the final days and I was exhausted. I was exhausted from work, from professional study in my “spare” time and exhausted from relationships that had all but drained the life out of me. I think I turned the television on for my scheduled 30 minute reprieve from focussed mind bending tax problem sets. What I saw unfolding intrigued me. I had all but missed the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The best moment of the century to live in London simply passed me by, as I awoke at 4 am to put in 2.5 hours of study every morning before work and read my chapters on the tube to work. Lunch time was study time and after work, I would head to the gym and have at least an hour of study before sleeping. Weekends were where I really hit the books for 12-16 hours a day.
I wondered: “Had I missed something? We’re we sending astronauts up in rockets again?”
I gradually realised that the Red Bull adverts everywhere and product placement meant that it was actually the drink company that was sponsoring this event. Wow. It was an hour into the broadcast and I had to get back to trying to figure out section 86 tax rollovers but I kept a watchful eye on a muted television as Felix took the long, long, long lead up into space. Finally, he was ready and I stopped whatever I was doing. This was far more energizing than my daily walk in the woods!
Tax exams, legal case books and provincial standards law strewn on the floor around me. As Felix stepped out onto the ledge of the capsule I thought: “God, I hope I am not witnessing someone fall to their death.” But then, the next thought was the game changer: “But, what a way to go. Living your dream. Living the dream of thousands. Dreams ARE possible.”
We all know how it turned out. Felix flew through space, free falling into his destiny. He landed safely to roars of jubilation around the world. How had I somehow managed to see this – one time in half a dozen times over the whole year during which I had turned on the television?
We all have our destiny. Mine was to see that jump, that day. I was minutes from the site of the only paragliding experience I had had – off the top of a mountain. It, too, had been exhilarating and as soon as I landed (on my face, as I recal – elegant as always) I wanted to go again. I had a taste of soaring and I wanted more!
Of course, that was just before I moved to England. There aren’t great mountains like in BC. Yes, there is Scotland, but it still does not compare. And, my life became more – well – earthbound.
I remember thinking, as I walked through the mountain town centre that evening getting my head cleared for the last two days of study, that it really didn’t matter if I passed or failed this big exam. What mattered was that I had stepped up to the plate and taken a swing. I had set and maintained my gruelling schedule for 10 months. I had given up paid employment for a month to invest in my studies. I had pushed myself to my limit – and then some. And yet, I had maintained an extremely stringent high performing diet and exercise regime. Of THAT tenacity and dedication, I will always be proud. And if I could do that, I could do anything.
Since then, life intervened and the body doesn’t cooperate with my agendas anymore. But Felix Baumgartner reminded me that we get possibly one go-round in this life and we can squander it in mediocrity or set our goals for our dreams.
We can touch the stars.
I am grateful to Felix Baumgartner for his inspiration. I am grateful for a year of rest and archaeology as I unearthed my bounty and joy. I am grateful that at this point in my life, I recognise that with all of my achievements, I have never really made the commitment to my dream and that in realising that and mourning the passage of time, I am grateful that I can still look forward with passion, and still make the decision, now.
Right now, as I write this, I am reminded of the woman who – although middle aged – felt again like a twenty year old, with life stretched out in seemingly endless possibility. The stretch was shorter but the possibilities remain. It is a joy to feel again, a renewed sense of possibility.
This week, filled with jet lag fatigue, I have been remembering that rejuvenated woman and many younger versions of herself, and of course, I am reminded of how she came crashing to earth when she re-entered her real life shortly after her study leave and successfully passing her exams. I think of the abusive people and situations she endured while working through a bout of pneumonia and how that perfect storm changed her life completely, just six months later. I forgive her for not getting out before she fell ill.
The pull of gravity is strong and breaking free is not always easy.
We are not all Felix Baumgartner and I did remember realising 3 years ago that Felix had not gotten to space without a lot of training and an incredibly talented, dedicated, influential and supportive community around him. Without a community of good hearted, dedicated well wishers able to lift you up, it is very difficult to break free of gravity.
None of us touches the stars on our own.
And so, I recal my sense of oneness with Felix, I have a sense of compassion for the woman I was, and I recognise the power of community. What do I do with that? Well, yesterday I realised that I need some launch partners when I get through testing this website and am closer to having product ready to launch on the site. It is time now that I stretch myself to build the community around this project.
That brings us to service. I noticed that I forgot to mention service in the last couple of posts and I had to go back and edit. I wonder what that says about me. Well, it is true that I am not well at the moment and I am struggling to get back on a daytime schedule. I suffer jet lag very badly because anything that interferes with my sleep patterns makes me sick and is extremely difficult to correct. My moments of service have been small. And that’s okay. I think we must practice compassion and care for ourselves first, in order that we have anything to give. Today, I acted as mediator on an online dispute between artists, and I offered an ear to a friend undergoing mental stress.
So, I turn it back to you:
For what are you grateful, today?