I can’t think of a time in recent history where falling could be used
as both an inspiring metaphor while at the same time describe a
spiraling ride to shame, and dishonor. Both have been stunning.
Of course I’m talking about Felix Baumgartner, and Lance Armstrong.
Both of these men achieving stunningly detailed, and witnessed falls.
Yet, one is the absolute polar opposite from the other. Once again I
can’t think of such ever happening like this before.
Heroes and the need for them is part of the human experience.
Sometimes in our own trying hours we’ll look for guidance or inspiration
where one can say; “Yeah, you did and so will I.” Sometimes we find it
spiritually. Sometimes from a fictional character in movies or books.
However most times it’s an actual person in pursuit of some quest.
Whether they ever achieve it or not isn’t always the end all be all.
Sometimes it’s the effort that matters more.
The problem that arose in the case of Mr. Armstrong is not so much in
the results that we found out he actually did the things that were
accused. It’s in the case that for so long, after all the denials, the
court cases, and more. They were never able to prove it. So many like
myself and others rooted for him.
We discussed at water coolers how it was just the jealousy of
nationalistic judges just wanting to dishonor the accomplishments. After
all it has been nearly 10 years, and never so much as a misdemeanor
type charge ever stuck. The more he fought, and accused all comers as
players of an inquisition; the more people stood beside him.
The difference with this case as opposed to the baseball steroid
fiasco was this: Once the show trials started you pretty much knew from
the get go what transpired. With Armstrong it had all the signs he was
in the cross hairs of jealous inquisitors hell-bent on damaging his
repute for spite’s sake. The more they accused with no proof, the harder
we defended him. Most were “all in” only to find 10 years of defense
crushed in a near week.
It wasn’t as if after years they finally proved say in 2001 he used
some borderline substance that could be argued legal or illegal at the
time and lost his argument. That would be inconsequential for most. The
issue is that we learned in near stunning detail collaborated with team
mates, eye witnesses, doctors, emails, financial records, and more. It
was all a lie. Not them, but from Lance himself. That is what turns a
hero into a pariah. No more hero-worship to be bestowed. Now just scorn,
and branded as a disgrace to sporting itself. My my how the mighty can
On the other hand we have Felix. His fall into grace was captured
live on both the web, and television with breathtaking results. The
details that are emerging on what this man had to do, and the unknowns
he faced, is nothing more than what heroes are truly made of. Simply
Just two facts that in of themselves are bewildering. One: They had
no idea what would happen to him or his suit once he broke the sound
barrier. Two: In order to reach the altitude of 128K plus feet he would
need to endure nearly 3 hours strapped into a capsule the size of a dog
house. All the while wearing an all enclosing suit, and helmet. Why so
impressive? He’s claustrophobic! The only thing more impressive would
be: Oh yeah, and he’s afraid of heights.
Today we look at two heroes. One we’ll scorn and lost everything in
which it seemed he would do anything for. And did. The other we’ll look,
cheer, and hold in our highest regards as challenging the unknown and
being brave enough to risk it.
However in the case of Felix Baumgartner, many will only be further
impressed if we find he stood on that platform 24 miles above the Earth
ready to jump, and wasn’t on any drugs.
© 2012 Mark St.Cyr www.MarkStCyr.com