All over the news a few weeks back was the marvelous feat successfully completed by daredevil Felix Baumgartner. Capturing the attention of people all over the world, Baumgartner performed a free fall from 128,100 feet up into the stratosphere. The fervor of the inspired filled conversations both off and online. But who could forget the ongoing conflict in the Horn of Africa, or the Pakistani schoolgirl who was targeted by the Taliban? And we haven’t, but wow did we need some inspiring news. Just for a moment to watch a human do something remarkable.
In a time of global instability and economic uncertainty for a number of leading nations, the challenge for us to stay above the worrisome thoughts that tend to dishearten, slow us down, and otherwise make us feel overwhelmed, hang high above our heads making it all seem too much, and hard to grasp.
Create space in culture, jump from the stratosphere—
Nowadays it is really easy to slip into “the experience” which might best be equated to being tightly wound. All of the world’s events and circumstances become your pool of immersion. We live intensely with the experiences of the day—we are deeply relating to all of the news, especially the kind that reports on suffrage and strife.
And then comes along a remarkable feat achieved by an individual or group. Felix Baumgartner recently achieved one such feat becoming the first human to break the sound barrier under his own power. People often get excited and inspired by individuals attempting to achieve something awesome. We tune in and follow the build up, we are part of the build up. I remember when I was a kid, we anticipated for a whole week, and then gathered around the television to watch Evel Knievel jump over a heap of cars. All us kids in the neighborhood took to the back alley ways behind our yards, sidewalks, and the VFW parking lot to build jumps for our bicycles. And now we have a new daredevil, doing something who would have thought possible for a human body to achieve?
Baumgartner created a gap. A gap between what we experience and know to be real—happening now—and what is possible, the very outer edge of possibility. The speed at which Baumgartner fell, and where he fell from, few will ever reach. Yet our dreams; the ability to have such aspirations, will be inspired for decades. We step out of our personal experiences that we hover in, and suddenly we dream of walking on the moon. It may not make a difference if one of us aspires to such heights, but an entire country?
Some would critique the Red Bull funded initiative, as a waste of time, human ingenuity, and of course money. And perhaps in some ways it is. In an attempt to make sense of the time we live in today, from the perspective of an entire evolving process, however, it is important to remember something humans learned a very long time ago (and with a greater limitation of resources). We understood the importance of being diversified in survival and exploration. While safety at home was always a concern, exploration is also a necessary. In exploration you might find new resources, and consequently a migratory passage way. In exploration your senses tingle as they navigate the newness. Human resource is always with us, one such resource is our imagination, and if uninspired will grow dull. Exploration, you might say, is an innate part of the human makeup.
So if we’ve explored the world over, save for places best left untouched, how then do we create that electricity if we can’t migrate into outer-space just yet? What do we do here on earth, with our time here on earth?
If exploration is an inspirator of our relationship to life, but we’re not going anywhere physically new, what can we explore? Enter The Gap.
One of the consequences of dealing with the unsettling aspects of migration is that it keeps our relationship to life electric; our instincts stay sharp. Just a few hundred years later, cozy up to modern day conveniences, and suffer the consequence: the blade goes dull. In come our latest universal challenges, for which we must now figure out a way to prepare ourselves.
Even though we occupy the same physical space, we haven’t stopped migrating. Today for the majority of citizens within what are considered leading nations, migration looks a lot different. Sure relocating to a different city can be challenging, but even a foreign city is familiar. That place has food, this place offers shelter, that place is where I get currency
Enter the Gap. When a Human Being landed on the moon, the imagination was set a fire. Space travel became household item. Children now grow up dreaming of astronautical adventures. At the same time we received a humbling perspective of Earth within a system. That humbling experience fuels our inquiry to learn about everything that’s needed to get there, like Space Studies, limits of the human body in outer-space, and so on. We also got a physically informed sense of how precious this life is. As far as journeys go, no human being has topped what the recently departed Neil Armstrong achieved, and on a global scale of recognition. Yet Baumgartner’s work is remarkable nonetheless, because it shows what the human body in collaboration with machine can do. He achieved something no human body has ever achieved. He has set a new mark. He has created a gap. It is a gap between what the majority perceives as limitation, what could be possible, and what has proven to be possible. While it may be some time before anyone passes Armstrongs mark, Baumgartner showed that there are still many other feats for us to achieve.
So what can we explore? Today we are still very far off from a majority having the ability to travel into outer-space. So until then if we want, we can still dream, until then we know that there is more to be done here and now, more to fill our days with, more to explore here. But the definition of exploration, is unlike centuries ago, it has evolved to include much more now. We know the physical terrain, but what about the cultural phenomenon discussed within this story? How do ideas go viral? How does inspiration spread like fire? Look to the Gap. What is the Gap? It is the space created by an idea of possibility and potential, that we share collectively, and that space is held by our human consciousness—It is our collective consciousness.