65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier, Felix Baumgartner has done it again — this time, without an airplane.
Photo illustration via UK Daily Mail
But for me, the amazing feat isn’t that Baumgartner used just his body to challenge the demon that lives beyond Mach 1; it’s that he challenged the demon that lives inside us all: fear.
During his test jumps, Baumgartner suffered panic attacks. According to an interview with USAToday:
“Unaccustomed to free-falling while confined by a helmet and cumbersome suit, Baumgartner started suffering panic attacks and pulled himself off the project. He overcame his fears with the help of a sports psychologist. ‘It was simple stuff,’ Baumgartner [said]. ‘I’d put on a helmet and tell [the sports psychologist], from one to 10, how panicked I felt. And in the end, no matter what the number was, he told me my pulse rate never changed. So it was all in my head.’ “
We may think we are limited by physics or time or geography. But in the end, what truly limits most of us is fear.