Why do we do what we do?

Monday evening, after the kids went to bed, I sat on the couch watching “Terminator” immersing myself in my weekly paranoia about machines one day bringing an end to humanity. The gist of this episode, like the films, put the basic humanness of its otherwise innocent characters on a bleak collision course with a war of extinction with “the machines.” The future looks bleak indeed.

But this episode had too much dialogue, too much weeping; no car chases, no gun fights. I quickly lost interest.

I wandered the web on my MacBook when I stumbled accross a BBC story of a former Swiss miltary pilot crossing the English channel with a rocket strapped to his back. I watched the video. I watched in silence as he jumped from a plane in Calais, France, and zipped off into the blue. I watched as he blasted past onlookers and chase planes. I watched as he deployed his parachute and landed in Dover, England, with nothing more than a stumble.

No threats, no deaths, no terror, no markets collapsing, no war, no hospital waiting rooms, no polution. Just one man, with a a rocket strapped to his back leading by example.

This story fills me with hope. There are yet a few hope-filled heros who do not become distracted from their focus; no obstacle clouds their pursuit of an ideal; no risk is unmanaged.

“I’m not worried about risk, I manage risk”, he said. What a profound confidence.

Yves Rossy landed safely. He valued risk, he measure it, planned for it, managed it … and landed it. I admire his achievement. I admire his desire to see a future in which we fly “a little bit like a bird.” I admire his desire to lead humanity forward to do what we have never done before. I admire his lack of paranoia about some undefined chance of failure. I admire his unflinching focus on success.

Next week, when I sit down to watch “Terminator,” it’ll be a bit easier to remind myself that a bleak future is fiction. Human fulfillment is possible if we do what we do with love, with joy, and with faith. Yves Rossy is “down to earth” by reminding us we are called to the stars.

“Flight of the Jet Man,” airs again on Friday October 3rd on National Geographic Channel(US). Can anyone find out when(if) it’s on in Canada?

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