I stayed up late last night and watched Felix Baumgartner jump from a weather balloon almost 40km above the ground. Why wouldn’t you? Not every day an energy drink sponsored Austrian tries to travel faster than the speed of sound without using an aeroplane.
Around the dinner table tonight I discussed the events with my “world events estranged” teenagers. I was excitedly sharing the wonder of it all, when my 14 year old daughter asked what the point was. Was there a reason for doing this?
Was there a reason?
I was quiet.
I remembered the commentators on YouTube remarking about the great “data” this jump would provide NASA for future spacey stuff. I ran a scenario in my mind ever so quickly…
GUY 1: Hey guys, we need to know what would happen if a man was to ascend to 40km above sea level and then free fall all the way down.
GUY 2: Let’s drop a mannequin and attach black box like instruments that record the data.
GUY 3: Let’s send a monkey, just don’t tell the RSPCA.
GUY 1: I was thinking an extreme sports superstar with sensationalised live worldwide television coverage.
GUYS 2,3,4,5 etc: Yes, that’s probably the best way for us to acquire the vital data we need.
I would say that conversation never happened at all.
What happened was a man was following his dreams and passions, and there may happen to be side effect benefits for the rest of humanity.
And that’s how it usually works. Sure, sometimes you do what’s right by your fellow human by neglecting yourself. But when you see someone else following their dreams and you cannot see the “point”, try not to be too dismissive.
A lot of what I enjoyed doing when I was younger, and perhaps even to this day, was looked upon by people I was around (like parents) as a waste of time. As a child computer time was dished out like it was as harmful as red food colouring, and owning or using a mobile telephone was tut tutted all the day long.
Yet now hardly a day goes by without someone ringing, texting or facebooking me asking for advice or help with their devices. And I don’t mind a bit, I love it. But if I hadn’t “wasted” all those hours in the past, I would be no help to anyone.
Felix shared some interesting thoughts on why he likes to do what he does.