Two Guys In A Balloon

Picture of capsule of Two Eagle balloon over Pacific Ocean
Photo by Troy Bradley

So this week these two guys, Troy and Leonid, decided to take a balloon ride, from Japan to North America, hoping to break two world records (longest distance and time aloft in a gas balloon.) They began their journey last Saturday and have spent most of their last week flying over the Pacific Ocean. I began my journey from my home in Statesville, watching on my iPad, and will end up in the same place.

So they have broken the records, and now we await their landing. They are currently off of Baja, or maybe over it since they are so close, and it is about 5 a.m. They have traveled in the balloon around 6,635 miles and been at it for 159 hours. Now we watch to see where will they land and when.
It’s more than two guys in a balloon. So much planning, so many people, have been involved. They have a command center in Albequerque with some of the brightest and most able experts advising them. They have chase crews at ready. Then there are all of our armchair quarterbacks…the whole ballooning community has been watching, discussing and praying for a safe flight and safe landing.
Community…..it’s so important. Could these guys have done this on their own? Maybe, but their odds improve because they do not. Because of technology they have worked as a team with those on land, able to talk with them often. They use the resources at their disposal. Smart. Especially when you are backed up good people and technology.
They don’t necessarily need people like me, checking my browser first thing in the morning to see how far they have traveled and what direction they are heading. Checking during the day several times, and before I go to bed at night. Reading with delight reports of their journey. Praying for their safety and wellbeing. But yet, to do something like this and know there are people the world over who care, many strangers, must make the accomplishment a bit sweeter.
Some may say that this is a silly thing, that there are so many better uses for their time and resources. Truth is they are a scientific experiment in motion. Not only is their flight something to study and learn from, teaching us how our aviation technology works at such distances, but their bodies are also being monitored to study what happens to someone traveling at high altitudes in a non-pressurized environment.
But even without this, there is the value of living the adventure. While many of us spent the week in our normal routines, they were making history. They were testing their knowledge, skill and endurance. They were taking God’s gifts and saying “So, what else can we do with this?”
Most of us will never have such an experience as this. Still, we can learn a lot from it. Approaching life with a sense of adventure adds color and dimension. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have too many wasted days. Too much humdrum. Days that aren’t celebrations of life, but are spent coasting in lethargy in the gray. Living by rote instead of basking in a delightful celebration of life. Don’t let your only celebration of your life be by others after your death. You don’t need to break world records. Sometimes it is living the humdrum with a whole different attitude.
As you adventure through life, who have you chosen in your command center? Are those advising and supporting you really experts in the areas for which you ask for their advice, or are they just someone you have casually grabbed at random, whose advice and support is hit or miss? Do you have people who will watch your back, even if you haven’t asked them? People who will cheer you on to success and invest time, resources, and prayers on your behalf just because? Who will talk out the mistakes with you, helping you learn and grow? You probably do, whether you access them or not is another question. Sometimes you must open your eyes and reach out your hands and ask for them to join you.
In a few hours we will see this flight come to an end. It’s sort of like the Super Bowl for balloonists, though we’re all cheering for the same team. They have overcome many battles to get here, followed their game plan, made adjustments as necessary, and they have conquered many strong and worthy opponents. While the game is not quite over yet, many are anticipating that time with cheers. We are proud of their accomplishment. We are proud they have set the bar a bit higher. Congratulations guys. Welcome back to earth, Troy and Leonid, the Two Eagles Balloon Team. God is laughing in delight with you. So am I. Thanks for letting me join the journey. It’s been fun. Soft landings!
May the winds welcome you with softness.

May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”

                                 The Balloonists Prayer

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