Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pull up

There’s something both tragic and uplifting about watching someone take risks and fail.

I think it’s important for us as a society—and individually—to push limits, to follow dreams, to make bold plans. If you let that part of you atrophy, what are you left with? Breathing, eating, sleeping. Watching bad TV.

Steve Fossett was (and possibly still is) one of those risk-takers. It’s silly to try to guess at his personal motivations or glamorize his successes and failures. But from a third-person perspective, it’s good to see someone try to, for instance, fly around the world, solo, without refueling, just because it had never been done. Sometimes I think we’ve become so inoculated against that kind of daring that it doesn’t even register in the public consciousness as it has in the past (see Lindbergh, Chuck).

As of Wednesday night, Fossett still was missing somewhere in the sun-baked wilderness of Nevada after taking off on what should have been a routine three-hour flight.

I have a major soft spot for aviation. That particular winged horse might be well out of the barn for me, but I still love watching the state of the art develop, the envelope expand, pilots continuing to give gravity the middle finger. So to see someone whose public life was predicated on trying to leap tall buildings trip and fall over the equivalent of a sidewalk crack… well… that’s only sad, and nothing else.

I hope they find him soon.

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