"Sometimes you have to go really high to see how small you are."
- Felix Baumgartner
Like many of you, I was glued to the live feed and riveted by the record-breaking jump made by Felix Baumgartner on Sunday afternoon, 24 miles above New Mexico. I'm sure this is just one of hundreds of blog posts that will be written in the coming weeks about the event, but here's my take on it.
There's not a whole lot that I can add about this feat that hasn't been said already. Some of the descriptors that immediately come to mind - unreal, amazing, crazy, groundbreaking, harrowing and just downright awesome. The one word that I heard several times from Felix though, both leading up to the event and after he landed safely, was team. If you listen closely to his comments, you'll find that he's very quick to thank his team and to acknowledge that he wouldn't have been able to do all that he's done without the team surrounding him. Pretty cool for a daredevil, BASE-jumping, thrill-seeking, adrenaline junkie.
His quote above reminded me of a scene from Grand Canyon, a movie packed with some big name actors such as Danny Glover, Kevin Kline and Steve Martin. I couldn't find a clip of this particular scene, but at one point in the movie, Simon is talking to Mack about the Grand Canyon, its vastness and how it made him feel, sitting on the edge taking it all in. Check this out...
Simon (played by Danny Glover): "You ever been to the Grand Canyon? Its pretty, but that's not the thing of it. You can sit on the edge of that big ol' thing and those rocks... the cliffs and rocks are so old... it took so long for that thing to get like that... and it ain't done either! It happens right there while your watching it. Its happening right now as we are sitting here in this ugly town. When you sit on the edge of that thing, you realize what a joke we people really are... what big heads we have thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much... thinking that our time here means diddly to those rocks. Just a split second we have been here, the whole lot of us. That's a piece of time so small to even get a name. Those rocks are laughing at me right now, me and my worries... Yeah, its real humorous, that Grand Canyon. Its laughing at me right now. You know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow chewing his cud on the side of the road that you drive by doing 70 mph."
How's that for a visual aid? Puts things in perspective, right? I have to believe the Felix Baumgartner can relate to that right about now.
I met a friend and former colleague last week for coffee. She's in transition right now as well, so we were talking about our respective job searches and how we're spending some of the extra time that we have right now. I was humbled and inspired when she told me about some of the volunteer work that she's been getting involved in. She's spending time volunteering at homeless shelters and being trained to take hotline calls for domestic abuse victims. She's an experienced and talented marketing executive who's using the extra time she now has to make a difference in other people's lives.
She clearly understands that "it's not all about you".
Sometimes we just need a little perspective to help us realize that it's really not all about us. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the trivial, day-to-day tasks that take up our days and compile our careers. However, if we would just slow down and pull up every now and then to consider the bigger picture, it might be possible to find more meaning and purpose in our lives.