But as I thought about it over the last few days, I realized it's not silly at all. It's just become lost in our cynical, self-centered world. It all came home this morning when, as I was working out, I watched a remarkable documentary, Man on Wire.
Here's the synopsis from fandango.com;
On August 7, 1974, a 24-year-old French high-wire artist named Philippe Petit committed one of the most astonishing performance stunts of the late 20th century: he strung a thin cable in between the two towers of the World Trade Center and not only walked across, from one building to another, but did a nerve-wracking series of knee-bends and acrobatic movements on the cable, some 1,350 feet above the ground, before turning himself in. This occurred to the consternation and chagrin of Port Authority policemen, who immediately arrested Petit for the act -- prompting many to dub Petit's stunt "the artistic crime of the century." James Marsh's documentary Man on Wire revisits and recounts this chain of events some 34 years after they occurred. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide
I suppose it ties to how much I love the Apollo Space Program. The idea that there are things in the human experience that are done for the sheer joy and adventure of it, and not because of some intellectual program. Sure, Apollo was a race to beat the Russians, but when Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the Sea of Tranquility, it was a moment that reached far beyond political or geographical borders.
It was humanity stepping out and doing something beautiful, for the sake of it's own beauty. For the sake of man's own place in the universe. As Mr. Armstrong said, "One giant leap for all mankind."
As I watched the footage of Mr. Petit out on that wire, dancing a quarter mile above the earth, I began to weep. His girlfriend, describing how she watched from the street below, put it best;
"It was beautiful."
His moments were graceful, his mastery of the wire breathtaking, but it was more than that. It was the drive to mount an operation not unlike a bank heist to gain access to the roof of the World Trade Center, install the thousands of dollars of equipment needed, and risk your very life just because you feel compelled to do something amazing. My heart leapt at the thought of it.
I suppose you don't go into the work I do without aspiring to something more than the mundane.
I grow so weary of selfishness. I see people motivated solely by their own selfish needs and beliefs. I fear there is no longer anyone who would see the wonder in Petit's act, as there are certainly few who see the grandness of NASA's work, let alone those who would take such wonderful steps into the unknown.
I guess I don't care about status right now, if I'm working with a playwright deemed "hot" by the powers that be, or about playing nice about my feelings. I want challenges put before me that I have earned. I want something that ignites a fire in my belly that drive me forward with purpose, that makes it impossible for me to not give 110%. I want to dare to be great, and not worry about how it's taken.