Last night I watched Ric Burns' documentary on the World Trade Centers and during it I encountered Philippe Petit for the first time. You know I'm going to quit my life and follow him around forever.
(From the film's 2003 interview): My love for the towers was in my relation with them -- not as an overall appreciation almost in an architectural sense: my love was for their life they were alive. Not many people know that... They were vibrating with the passage of a cloud over the sun, difference of temperature, the wind. And the skeleton was actually making noise. I discovered that. And at times the towers were asleep, hibernating. And at times they wake up and they cry...
On the morning of August 7, 1974, a little past seven o'clock, after six years of meticulous planning and problem solving, Philippe Petit crossed the space between the two World trade Center towers on a tight rope. He walked---danced, laughed, bowed, saluted the horizon, kneeled in front of the tower to say hello to the tower, bounced, and lay down on the wire----making eight crossings over 45 minutes.
Whenever other worlds invite us, whenever we are balancing on the boundaries of our limited human condition... that's where life starts. That's where you start feeling yourself living. So when I found myself: one foot on the wire, one foot on the building----I decided to shift my weight to become a bird, it was not something new. And after a few steps, I knew I was in my element. I didn't even take the full length of the crossing to get to know the rigging, the vibration off the building, and the wire. And then very slowly as I walked I was overwhelmed by a sense of easiness, a sense of simplicity. And actually I can be seen on the first pictures smiling, smiling probably out of disbelief. It's so easy, after all those years and months of ups and down and detours, victories and disasters. Finally I was carrying my life on a path that was the simplest, the most beautiful, and the easiest...
I had a sense of having stepped in other-worldy matters, that at some point in my crossings I lay down on the wire and looked at the sky and I say a bird above me. And again because of my sense were decouplated, I could see that bird pretty high up, and I could see that the eyes were red and I thought of the myth of Prometheus there. But the bird was circling and looking at me as if I were invading his territory, as if I was trespassing, which... which I was.
So at some point I thought the Gods---the God of the Wind, the God of the Towers, the God of the Wire----all those invisible forces that we persist in thinking don't exist but actually that rule our life---might become impatient, might become annoyed---by my persistent vagabondage there. So my intuition told me it was time for me to close the curtain of this very intimate performance---a walk between me and the towers and I landed on the same tower from which I started, the south tower, and then I had the octopus of the authority, you know, grab me by their hundreds of arms.
The morning of his crossing, after his crossing, a reporter asked the 24 year old Petit: Weren't you afraid up there at all? Petit: I was not afraid. But I was just looking what I had in front of me. I have really something which was huge and incredible, you know. So afraid, not, but living more than a thousand percent. So perhaps that's close to afraid, I don't know. But at the same time I was happy, happy, happy, happy.
You need dreams to live. It's as essential as a road to walk on and as bread to eat. I would have feel myself dying if this dream would have been taken away from me by reason.