When David Blaine emerged from an 8-foot in diameter, water-filled tank in May 2006 after unsuccessfully attempting to break the world record for unassisted static apnea -- i.e., holding one's breath for a very long time -- his failure was just a part of his routine in life, one that he says life is all about.
Though the conditions that proceeded his failure could be deemed unfair -- Blaine had been submerged in the tank for a full week beforehand and had the energy exerting task of having to escape from chains while trying break the record -- the 40-year-old illusionist has always had an affection for testing the improbable.
"As a magician I think everything is possible," Blaine said in at a 2010 TED conference, "and I think if something is done by one person it could be done by others."
With those words, the Brooklyn native set the tone for his monologue, narrating his road toward a record-breaking achievement. Impossibility, to Blaine, simple translates as a high level of difficulty. There are no obstacles, only hurdles that are meant to be cleared.
"My first attempt to hold my breath I couldn't even last a minute," Blaine said, before going on to detail how far he was from breaking the eight minute 58 second record held by Tom Sietas.
And although it may have taken three years, massive amounts of weight-loss and a failure on live television, Blaine was eventually able to claim his world record, this time by holding his breath for over 17 minutes after inhaling oxygen (assisted static apnea) in 2008.
When Blaine had a chance to put a cap on his success story, he attributed breaking the world record to a few words that should be internalized by any individual facing improbability : "It’s practice, it’s training, it’s experimenting while pushing through the pain to be the best that I can be."
Watch as the magician discusses his failure in 2006, his success in '08 and everything that happened in between.
Photo Credit: WENN