friday faves - spec of dust

From last October.

It’s good to get outside of myself, out from under the piles of insurance notices, dietary protocol, doctor’s notes, lab requisitions, irrelevant school notices, away from the drawer stuffed with drug-filled childproof bottles, pill cutters, syringes, bibs, rags and sterile gloves, distance myself from diapers and wipes and rectal thermometers, pain killers, suppositories and salves. And sometimes I get that chance, even in the comfort of my own home.

I watched Felix Baumgartner drop out of the sky from 128,000 feet. A strangely unsettling vertigo washed over me as I eyeballed the rotating curvature of our blue planet that appeared more brown than anything. Viscera twisted as he spun like a top, first in one direction, then slowing before circling in the other, the sun at times glinting off of his helmet. I felt as if I were doing loop de loops on a roller coaster—exciting, unnerving, exhilarating. At the edge of my seat I squinted at the little white spec on the screen: a man tumbling over himself in a sickly Time Tunnel spiral. I knew the outcome—it’d been all over the news the day before—but still the scene was gut-wrenchingly tense. Even so, I wished I’d been able to watch it live, to feel the depth of angst, fear and white-knuckle suspense, to feel something so completely foreign in its origin. In a way I wished I were he.

The video cut to Eva, Felix’s mother, tears streaming down her face as she sat at the edge of her own seat, watching, waiting. What must this mother be thinking as she witnessed her son rip through the sky like a rocket—for a period turning grisly cartwheels—punching a hole through the sound barrier with a mortal fist sheathed in Stormtrooper white. What were the chances he might perish, dissolve into thin air or be ground into the turf like sand? I found myself paralyzed, delirious, euphoric.

After seeing—feeling—such a fantastical feat, its images gravitated to my mind like a magnet. I later sat near the bedroom window, Calvin happily mouthing his toys on the floor near my feet, his colored plastic orchestra cube blinking and playing the same music I’ve hear a million times over. Up there in space ... won’t it be nice when that’s me? I mused. Oh, how I sometimes long to be a spec of dust floating in the cosmos, oblivious, infinitely small yet simultaneously expansive. Invisible. Trivial. Perfect. I’ll be ready to go there when my time comes, I thought, lured to that edge of peacefulness—the waters of Lethe and Mnemosyne—like tides drawn to the moon.

But then I step back inside myself where there’s laundry to be folded, Calvin’s dinner to be made, a floor to be swept, dishes to unload, diapers to change and an eight-year-old mouth to spoon feed. Then I delve even deeper within thinking of my aging mom, writing my blog in my head, supporting dear friends, loving my husband, adoring my child, embracing my family. Within is where I find a self that—every day—can soar twenty-five miles high and spin, sometimes uncontrollably, at 800 miles an hour even with two feet planted firmly on the ground of this planet which is truly, mostly, azure blue.

Felix Baumgartner, Red Bull Stratos

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