What It Takes to Be Amazed

It’s funny, people always say to find the good and awe in the every day.  Something as simple as the way a plant turns it’s leaves or flowers to the sun, or how an ant can carry a can of pop back to the nest by itself. (Maybe not a full one, but still, strong little buggers.)  Yet as time passes and the more awesome life becomes, the less exciting and attention-holding things seem to be.  Louis C.K. said it best in his “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy” interview/spot with Conan; if you haven’t seen it yet, PLEASE click the picture, take a few minutes and enjoy it.  It’s funny and depressing at the same time.  The GOOD news is, yesterday the world actually seemed to stop for a minute and be amazed.

Some guy made a decision: I want to go the highest anyone’s ever gone.  I want to jump from that place.  I want to fall the fastest.  No one will ever truly know why he wanted to do it, or what got stuck in his head, but Felix Baumgartner made his decision and went for it.  And yesterday, for a brief period of time, the world seemed to stop for  minute while we watched someone look down at the rest of us and jump.  It was extreme.  It was ridiculous.  It was death-defying.  And for a large number of us, we couldn’t look away.

As I sat there watching it unfold on tv, I looked around the room of people gathered for a wedding anniversary (Happy 50th to Helen and Howard by the way) and thought “When was the last time I saw this?  When was the last time everyone in a place stopped and took in what was happening?”  No cell phone checking, no tending to the dinner or conversing about Honey Boo Boo…”when was the last time?”  The first things to come to the top of my head were disturbing: 9/11, the “shock and awe” start to the ’03 war in Iraq, the Columbia disaster, the Boxing Day tsunami, Challenger…it shocked me how the first memories to flash to the forefront were tramatic and depressing.  “Where were you?” moments.  Is that what it takes to bring people together?

But as we watched Felix fall and saw his parachute open, the gathering erupted into applause and cheers.  And in an instant, the negative memories were pushed aside, and positive memories took their place.  I was almost as surprised as to what those memories were…

…The 2002 gold medal game in Salt Lake City (men’s and women’s).  The 2012 gold medal game in Vancouver.  Donovan Bailey’s 1996 100 metre world record run.  the 1992/1993 World Series wins by the Jays (Game 6 Atlanta “Nixon bunts, Timlin on it, throws to first…”, Game 6 Philadelphia “Well hit down the left field line, way back and GONE.”)  Wait a minute.  Wait.  The only positive group events I can remember are sports events?  There has to be another time…but as I rode home from the party, and even now as I’m writing this, nothing seems to come to mind.  The only one that comes closest is the Wallenda walk from earlier this year…where we all watched the screen to see what happened.  Maybe it’s sharing in a collective positive moment, maybe it’s feeling a sense of accomplishmenet through the success of others, maybe that’s why sports are easy to get groups to cheer together.  But is that why we watched yesterday?  Was it because of the sheer spectacle of the moment?  Or were we tuned in for the potential outcome(s)?   Did we really watch to potentially witness the worst result?

I choose to believe in the positive:  I didn’t watch Felix climb out of his capsule 37 kilometres in the air to watch him plummet to his death.  I watched it because of the moment.  I watched it to experience one person’s dream coming to fruition on the grandest scale on the most simultaneously public and solitary stage.  Felix stood at the edge of space and the culmination of something he’d set years aside to do, with countless dollars and hours invested, relationships forged and strained.  All of this time, and effort, and dedication this event; the emotion of the moment was nearly as big as the jump itself.  We all put ourselves in that position, hovering on the edge.  We stood looking down at the Earth, wondering “What would I do?  What would I feel?”

That is what it takes to be amazed.  To witness an event so grand in scale you can’t begin to describe or understand it, but can’t help to experience.  Something where you put yourselves in someone else’s shoes and wonder how you would live in that moment.  It is somewhat saddening to feel that it takes something of this scale to get us to that place, but at the same time, it is comforting to know that regardless of our day to day monotony and general acceptance of the amazing, we can still be humbled, and still be amazed.

Right before he jumped, Felix said “Sometimes you have to be really high to see how small you really are.”  If that isn’t a wake-up call to all of us to take the time in the day, the month, or just our life to find our moment to feel small, I’m not sure what will be.  Right now I’m just glad to have witnessed his moment, and I’m thankful it’s left me a little inspired to create my own. sports relationship relationships

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