January 23rd 2013
Story originally written and experienced: January 8th 2013
“I just really want to do it.”
She was telling me her plans. Her ambitious, well-thought out plans as our foot steps rhythmically collided with the pavement carrying us down the illuminated streets of Park Ave. Nicole told me earlier that day that she her had this new-found passion to “Take advantage of the city! I just really want to do it. And I will!” she said. “And you’re going to do it with me.”
66th Street and Park Ave.
We had arrived.
At a place that looked like this:
I glanced up at the regal architecture. Perplexed as to how such a large structure claimed such precious real estate on the island of Manhattan. I looked at Nicole and asked her with genuine curiosity where we were and what this was.
“It’s um. Wait let me check my phone. Oh, okay! It says here it’s the Park Avenue Armory.
…hmm known for its “thought provoking experiences through dynamic art,” she recited.
“And…what are we doing here?”
“I read about it online. Some exhibit they have for a few days. Come on, it seems pretty cool. I already got us tickets so let’s just check it out and if you don’t like it we can leave!”
We meandered inside the historic architecture, and once our coats were tagged with numerical value, we glided down the w i d e hallway that looked like this:
And approached a redheaded woman with a black uniform and partial smile at the edge of the entrance. She checked our tickets granting us permission to partake in this mysterious exhibition we blindly agreed to see. Was it an art piece? Something strange made of clay? An interpretive dance complete with hand-crafted drums? No…it was something a little more unexpected, and in that fleeting moment, breathtaking:
I snatched the brochure out of Nicole’s hands and scanned it again. Somewhere in my contemplative brainstorm, I found myself immersed in a dome shaped room with an inexplicable white curtain floating from the ceiling while cherry-stained swings d i s p e r s e d themselves across the floor.
“This is the Ann Hamilton Exhibit. It’s…it’s called”The Event of a Thread” said a meek voice trailing behind us. It was the redheaded woman with the black uniform and partial smile.
“I just. I saw you looking at the brochure so I thought I’d help you out.”
Nicole and I cautiously approached the premises and witnessed the beautiful montage of swinging humans course through the captured air. Some would swing together:
And some would swing alone
While other’s would invest in a combination of the two
And pretty soon it was my turn. And I abandoned my belongings on the faded wood floors and pushed back as far as my toes would let me
And I began to swing
And after soaring through the air and basking in the temporary cameo of my childhood days.
Something incredible happened.
And it was this:
During my last push forward I felt a rush of wind weave in and out of each cherry-stained swing. And when I glanced behind me, I noticed the inexplicable curtain floating in the middle of the room suddenly began to rise.
I hopped off immediately to decode the curious incident that coincided with my final swing.
“Did I do that?”
“…Olive, look up”
And so I did. And I saw this:
Each cherry-stained swing on the premises was entwined with threads that puzzle pieced themselves into the ceilings and onto the rafters. And those threads. And those rafters. Were connected. To that curtain. And with each collective swing from each contributing person, the curtain would rise and then it would fall.
But only when we would swing together.
And then I noticed something else. Something strange. That with each rise of the curtain revealed a perfectly linear display of…people. Voluntarily reveling in the rise and fall of the curtain puppeted by the puppeteers on the swings.
And after a while I joined them. Just to witness the effect of what I…we…had done just a few minutes before. And it looked like this when it rose:
And it looked like this when it fell:
And it felt pretty incredible to witness such a movement and such a grand gesture, that in that moment, had nothing to do with me.
So then I got to thinking.
About this idea. And about this concept. About how it’s true, isn’t it?
That if we think about it. If we really really think about it.
What we do? And who we are? And what we believe? Are almost individual swings in themselves. And what we enjoy? And what we respect? Well, you can witness them when you’re laying down and glancing straight up.
And what I mean is this:
So you have a job. And it serves a purpose. And alone you can a lot of things. Many things. Great things. But maybe not as many great things that you could potentially do, with the collective swings of everyone on your side. So you’re at this company. And you’re doing these things. And you want to have a part in it. A big part. And you do. And everything you guys produce? Together? Well, I’ll be waiting under the curtain to see it, and I thank you in advance.
Or maybe you’re part of a band. And you sing. Or you drum. Or you’re the cute addition with the tambourine. And you make damn good music. And so does everyone else. And alone you sound quite wonderful. But together? Well. Together I just can’t resist. And maybe it’s not other bandmates. But the behind the scenes managers, coordinators, loyal fans and venues that are willing to give you that chance. Sure your melodious ways produce one hell of a swing, but who knew with the help of a few people here and there you could get so damn sky high.
A more concrete example? Okay.
Martin Luther King was a revolutionary man. And he could swing better than most humans ever could. But what about Jessie Hill Jr.? He was swinging too. Right next to Mr. King. As was Harry H. Watchel, his lawyer, and Ralph Abernathy, his friend. And together? The 4 of them? Well, let’s just say everyone scattered beneath that curtain and watched as equality fluttered in their faces as a powerhouse of devoted swingers worked their ass off to make those Civil Rights move.
And as for me?
Well, I write. And I collaborate. And I brainstorm. And I edit. And I experience. And I meet. Other people. Just like you. Who inspire me. And swing with me. To manufacture something. Every day. That on a weekly basis. Comes to a curtain call near you.
My point being.
To those of you who have been swinging, either with me, or with someone else, by yourself or in some combination of the two, I just thought you should know that
Your effect on me is incredible.
Those hours? Those passions? Those beliefs? That ambition? Sure, they may seem pretty minute, especially when you stand alone. But believe me when I say,
The curtain wouldn’t rise nearly as high without you.