Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Watching history unfolding with the family: On Felix Baumgartner

Let me tell you, I didn't know about Felix Baumgartner until last week, when my husband told me that I should be writing about him and his historical jump from just outside the earth's edge.

Huh? I was perplexed because I really wasn't aware that there was a plan to attempt such a feat! I was intrigued and a bit doubtful about the outcome. Well, I am also praying that everything would turn out well just because the man has families and friends who love him!

That first attempt, my husband left the television on, until it was cancelled due to heavy winds. The next try, we also kept the television on. But it was postponed again because of weather concerns. By that time, I was getting into the excitement of things and I think my girls, too.

Did I tell you that MC has expressed a few months ago that she wanted to be an astronomer? Well, that story about jumping from space has tickled her interest, too. Although she and her sister, IC, have no patience to wait in front of the television. And they really didn't think it would push through because it has been cancelled twice already. How pessimistic are my kids? But I think they really cannot grasp the reality of someone jumping from way, way up there.

Then came October 14, a Sunday, the third attempt -- we left the television turned as early as 8 in the morning. Now we have a very strict rule at home, no matter what day unless there is really something very, very special, nobody is allowed to watch TV before 12 noon.

The girls protested, as expected, but we told them that today, history is in the making because of Felix Baumgartner. We invited them to join us in watching the event unfolding because they really should not miss it. 

Well, they did tried to stay as long as they could but when no action was taking place, they run off and asked us to call them as soon as the real thing begins. We monitored the event, but in between, we went on with our chores. 

And then dinner time, we just started serving food when it was announced that the balloon is on it's way up! Oh boy, talk about wrong timing. But hey, it's the way down that we wanted to really watch. We finished dinner and settled down, as a family, in front of the television.

When they showed a replay of the family's reaction right after the balloon's way up, and yes, Felix's mom's tearful expression, my little girl asked me, 'Mama, why is she crying?'

I told her that it's the usual mommy reaction. Mommies tend to cry no matter what reason just because, especially when it has something to do with their children. This time, the mama might be afraid for her son, and am sure when her son comes back, she would also cry for happiness. IC's response? 'That's dumb!' :-) Well, I said, you just want until you're a mom yourself :-)

Anyway, it took hours before Felix jumped because he needs to be 23-mile up there first. The girls would vanish to play, and would appear once in a while, asking if it's time. I assured them that we would call them when it's time. We actually let them stay up a little late (the next day is a school day), because we wanted them to see the celebrated jump.

And then, it's time. The girls came running to us, found their place and they stayed focused on the screen, there were no words. After Felix opened the capsule, I was really praying that it would all be okay (I guess most of us are praying for him, right?)

Then his short speech, which I didn't really understand, and jumped (we held our breaths). Nobody was speaking among us during his free-falling, but when we saw him tumbling, seemingly out of control for a few seconds there -- we all started to cheer for him. 

Then Felix righted himself, and took control. Whew, we were already shouting with glee, and clapping among ourselves. Just like when we are watching a soccer game!

And then he opened his parachute -- that was when I knew, his parents would have him in their arms soon and I was so happy for them. Never mind those records he broke, and he did break three records -- I am just glad that everything went well.

As for my girls? Well, they were fascinated although they could not understand why a feat like that should be done at all :-) An attempt to explain that it's some sort of an experiment, to test man's limits, is just too much for their sleepy minds. Actually, I also wondered how far-reaching those millions that was used in the project if they were instead given to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, to educate....

At least they could say, they were in front of the television watching the whole time, live, when Fearless Felix did his spectacular free-fall from the stratosphere.

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