Friday, August 07, 2009

Happy Anniversary Monsieur Petit

Today is Philippe Petit Danced Between The Towers Day. (A high holy day in my house.) Thirty five years ago a combination of imagination, insanity, hubris, holiness, poetry, and prowess combined over a quarter of a mile above downtown Manhattan as a young French wirewalker named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire cable no thicker than your pinkie and began to dance between the towers of the World Trade Center.

He and his compatriots -- an odd assortment of friends and acquaintances who came together because of his passion for this "great adventure" -- had been up all night, having illegally entered the towers the afternoon before, rigging the wire for the walk. In the early morning hours he stepped out . . . and into both history and legend.

Why did he do it? Later, when he'd had time to think, he said something to the effect that when he sees three oranges he must juggle and when he sees two towers he must string a wire and walk. But at the time, immediately after the police arrested him, as the media were pushing their microphones into his face, he simply answered, "Why? There is no why."

And isn't that as it should be? Do we ask why we see a particularly spectacular sunset just when we need to be reminded that the world is full of beauty? Do we ask why we someone does us a good turn just when we were about to give up on the human race? Do we ask why when we fall in love? Or why when our baby looks up at us and smiles? Or why whenever we're reminded, however it is that we're reminded, that grace abounds and we're surrounded by miracles?

Actually, we do. But later, usually. While it's happening we just watch and try to take it all in. Just as the people who were lucky enough to have been there thirty five years ago did. No one was asking why until Petit was back on the street. While he was dancing, we just watched. And felt our hearts dancing too.

In Gassho,

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