I’ve just been watching the coolest documentary called, “Man on Wire” about a guy who did a tightrope walk between the World Trade Center buildings just after they were built in 1974.
This guy is amazing. He could be a child, flitting around on a unicycle through the streets of Paris, dodging in and out of traffic as horns sound all around him. He’s exactly like one of those people who you would call weird in school and either avoid or stare at with your mouth gaping.
His name is Philippe Petit and he’s got a group of friends who are totally devoted to him and his schemes. They help him string a tightrope on Notre Dame’s cathedral, knowing full well they could be arrested.
I want friends like that. I remember my friends and I doing some pretty crazy stunts, but nothing like this. These guys have to plan for months to set up the wire, what it will anchor to, and so forth, and they are gleeful and very serious about it.
What is it about this tight ropewalker that inspires his friends to risk so much so that he can realize his dreams? They have nothing to gain – they aren’t going to be in the spotlight. I want to be like him.
On the other hand, people are always trying to talk me into doing things, and I’ve gotten so tired of it that I refuse to try and talk others into something. What I forget sometimes is that I get talked into things that turn out very well – like my daughter convincing me to go to Paris summer before last. I had a fantastic time, but she worked on me for months before I said yes. Now I’m inspired, again, to lead people. I used to have that ability, and generally practiced it to generate mischief or have adventures.
From watching him, he’s got this childlike wonder that is infectious. He’s not handsome at all, and yet he decided on a girl and pursued her with such enthusiasm that she jumped on board and allowed her life to meld into his.
He and his friends were practicing in a field what they’d need to prepare for the World Trade Center. They had to get the wire between the buildings – a space of 200 ft. – and came up with the idea of shooting an arrow across the distance with a string tied to it. The friend shot several arrows but they couldn’t go the distance because the string would snag. Finally they tried fishing line on a spool and it worked. The two men ran across to where the arrow landed and rolled in the grass with delight. They were grown men who let themselves be loose and free and delighted and excited enough to roll in knee-high grass. Oh how I envied them as I watched.
I am halfway through the movie and very anxious to finish. My brother was here tonight to watch the BCS championship, and he’s the one who told me about the movie. It’s on the Free Movies on the Comcast On Demand station, and it’s on the Sundance channel, and you can see a trailer at http://www.manonwire.com/
I am going to go and watch this wonderful little Frenchman achieve the impossible with no more than a dream and some very good friends who just want to grab hold of him and take whatever crazy ride he leads them on. I want to be him because he’s totally alive. I hope after I finish the documentary that I discover he still is…