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Thursday
Oct182012

Reality & Red Bull

 

You know there's not much left to conquer when you have to jump of the edge of space to get people to notice. Only what makes this historic event so newsworthy, is Felix Baumgartner didn't do it just to get on the news. His mission-impossible ran deeper than any accolade. He didn't do it just to retire either. Nobody commits suicide so they can retire. Although it is an option. He did it because he dreamed big enough.

My fifteen year-old son called me the morning of the jump. Divided by time zones at the moment, it was too early for him to be awake, nonetheless excited about something. His voice exercised a tone reserved for Christmas. When your heart is opened and bursting with the unexpected. My son had just witnessed the impossible. Online.  "Mom, a man jumped from the stratosphere back to Earth. His name is Felix Bamblgarden or something like that. And he survived." I heard  something about Red Bull. I thought he was talking about the latest commercial-gone- viral.  I suddenly felt an urge for a Red Bull. I was confused. His voice would not release its momentum until he knew I fully understood what he was telling me. "Mom, this guy jumped from a platform and did a free-fall to Earth. Mom, he spun out of control and caught himself and didn't open the chute until he was a mile up. Mom, it was so beautiful, it was so cool. It was so real.  
Real. It was the reality we have all been waiting for. The years of shows. The ultimate Survivor. How we've ached to see something so real that it would actually slap us in the face and waken us from our drunken hypnotic slumber. Our hangover from toxic television. 
Which brings me to my personal Achilles heel. Honey Boo Boo. Their family so marked in the indelible drawl of pageant juice it's like watching a train wreck without teeth. The Kardashians. A 72 hour spiral to the matrimonial cemetery. Real Housewives. Dear God forgive me for the things I cannot change  yet must record. Could someone please just cast a duck and get it over with, they have rights too you know.
The point being, reality shows are popular for a reason. We (ok, I) watch to see who's going to crash. Who's parachute won't open. It's like watching NASCAR without the cars. It's so engrained in our society to stop and stare at what is wrong, or hoping something does go wrong so we stay engaged, that when something so very right occurs, we are stunned. 
It took a man. Jumping from space. To wake us up. 
Baumgartner had an idea. An idea my young fifteen year-old son could only dream of. To fly. To throw himself from the edge of space, soar through the clouds to feel his face rippled with the forces of nature. For once in my son's life, he watched something real. That mattered. And he cheered. For its success. In his fifteen years we have not landed on the moon, but shielded our eyes from the eclipse. The space travel program that used to make grown men stand in awe, is now on X-Box. It's ironic that as technology expands, our youth's grasp of what is truly physically possible, contracts. Just at the moment when what used to be impossible, is more possible than ever before. Well, not everything is possible; Honey Boo Boo has a long road ahead of her. The Kardashians will never have enough. But through this magnificent display of adventurism, I am once again a believer in the power of the human spirit.
I hung up with my son, fully armed with Google keywords to discover for myself this phenomenon fueled by Red Bull and Flix Blamudgodman. My phone chimed. A text. From my son. "Mom, do you think I could actually be a certified sky-diver someday?" Absolutely my son. Absolutely. And for once reality was a beautiful, cool thing. Like an X-Box. That falls from the sky. At Christmas. 

 

 

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