Why It Pays To Have Balls Of Steel

In the hot air balloon high above Boulder

This morning as the boys were getting ready for school, I finally got the chance to watch a video clip of Felix Baumgartner‘s record breaking skydive, which actually happened yesterday. (I’m always behind the times.) I will never understand people like Felix, daredevils who need to be doing the next big thing. I mean, I’m all for testing your limits and pushing yourself, but parachuting from the stratosphere seems to go a wee bit beyond sane. He jumped from 24 miles above Earth’s surface. His free fall lasted for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. At one point, he was spinning wildly out of control at 833 miles an hour. I can only shake my head as I think about it. The man must have balls of steel, which would explain why he fell about a hundred miles an hour faster than he thought he would and was able to break three world records.

On the drive to school, I let the boys watch the video on my iPhone.

“He broke the speed of sound with his body,” I told them. “Sixty five years to the day after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a jet. It’s unbelievable,” I said. Still amazed.

“That’s crazy,” Joe said. “What if his parachute hadn’t opened?”

“Well, he wouldn’t have felt a thing,” I replied.

“Why would someone do that?” Joe asked. “Too many things could go wrong. Sometimes parachutes don’t open. I wouldn’t even want to jump out of a moving airplane. I’d never jump from outer space.”

“I think I’d like to skydive,” I told them, “but not from that high up.”

“You can’t skydive,” Joe said. “You’re our mom.”

“Moms can skydive,” I told him.

“What if something happened to you? We’d have no mom. We’d cry all the time,” Joe said. “You don’t get to skydive. We won’t let you.”

“Wait,” Luke chimed in. “Mom…you could do indoor skydiving. We’d let you do that.”

“It’s not really up to you guys, but I appreciate your concern,” I told them.

“Mom…would you jump with some other person attached?” Joe asked.

“Yes. I would do a tandem jump with an experienced skydiver. They wear the chute and deploy it. I’d just be along for the ride.”

“Okay. Well, I guess we could let you do that. But, you only get to jump if you go with a licensed professional,” Joe informed me.

A licensed professional? Where does this kid get this stuff?

I have thought about doing a skydive. The entire idea is quite ridiculous when you consider how afraid of heights I am. But, jumping from a perfectly good airplane is something I’ve long thought I should do. Perhaps I figure that maybe a skydive will make me less fearful of heights. My hot air balloon trip last year, which took us 4,000 feet up without parachutes, tested that same theory. However, climbing toward the top of Grays Peak this year, I determined the fear was still present. I told my sons that everyone has to die of something. If I’m skydiving and my chute doesn’t work, at least I will have died doing something interesting instead of having a stroke while watching LOST reruns and later being found stiff and lifeless in my bed. I don’t have balls of steel (I don’t even have balls, contrary to what some people who know me believe), but I’m going to die of something someday anyway. When I get to that point, years and years after I’ve jumped from a perfectly good airplane, at least I’ll have something interesting to look back on as my life flashes before my eyes. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I consider finding my inner daredevil.



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