Michel Fournier hopes to break four world records tomorrow with his stratospheric balloon flight and subsequent free fall. After being thwarted in 2002 by a ripped balloon and in 2003 by the French authorities refusing to let him launch over thousands of innocent citizens, he’s ready to go. The Canadian government is giving him permission to launch over Saskatchewan, where the population is so sparse that officials doubt he’ll be able to damage people or property in a bungled fall even if he tried. In addition, he’s spent more than $20 million so far, so he must’ve paid enough for success, right? Personally, I don’t trust his ambition. Didn’t he learn anything from the priest? Besides, this isn’t even for any good cause. It’s only for pride.
I supposed it’s no more ridiculous than any of the other things people do – mountain climbers whose final goal is Everest, base jumpers who long for the old World Trade Center, survivalists who cross Death Valley just for fun. To a certain extent, we all want the biggest and the best, and to be recognized as a member of an elite group. And to a certain extent, there may be nothing wrong with that sort of pride that drives you to achieve, that pushes you towards success. I’d rather be a bit full of myself than live my life in fear and never accomplish anything for myself. Still, pride is something where a little bit can go a long way. Some of us remember that better than others.