I’ve been a subscriber to Adventure Journal since day one, or at least since the first issue. Sitting on the floor in front of one of our bookshelves the other day, I randomly pulled that first issue off the shelf and flipped through it. It had been a while. There was a cool article from Jimmy Chin about skiing off the summit of Everest. Julie Goldstein’s art. Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from 127,852 feet.
The point the article about ‘Fearless’ Felix illuminated, catalogued in the journal under the header ‘Appreciation,’ was about his crippling claustrophobia.
Having to stuff himself into a space suit, it took an extreme sports psychologist, and 30 hours of training, to push Felix to the edge of panic. To get him able to climb into that suit and not tear it off. To get him to face, rather than run from, the thing that terrorized him most. Watching the footage as Felix prepared to fall from nearly 25 miles above the earth, his fear is palpable, unhidden.
‘Whatever one thinks of the Stratos project,' the author writes, ‘his vulnerability is a welcome, even necessary, relief from the simplistic machismo expected of our heroes.’
His willingness just to climb into that suit, let alone fall from the stratosphere, is a testament to us all that we can in fact face our own vulnerabilities. That yes, vulnerability is just a different word for courage. In Felix’s case, a courage I cannot even fathom.