ZERO PLUS 1249 DAY--New York, NY, Wednesday,
February 9, 2005--They
are called "The Gates" and 7,500 of them are being
raised in New York City's Central Park to create a 23-mile journey
through the most perishable commodity on earth--life itself.
I call them "The Gates Of Vigilance."
I walked through
Central Park when they unloaded the materials and then on Monday
when the process of raising the gates began. This is a pre-story
to the unfurling, but it doesn't matter if the gates fly saffron
or not to be "Gates of Vigilance."
flags will be raised to create a 23-mile journey through
Famed and controversial
environmental artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude are
the engines behind the conversion of the park's 843 acres into
a sweeping salute to the idea that all things come and go, and
while the beautiful things are here, we all should embrace them
as we might a new-born child.
Christo and Jean-Claude
refer to all their massive outdoor art forms as "children,"
and limit the time of their display to mere days. Each of their
many worldwide exhibits of life "all wrapped up" is
considered a child, and loved separately and distinctly for
being who they are. (see
interview with Christo & Jean-Claude by James Pagliasotti)
When they draped
the German Reichstag in Berlin in fabric, it lasted only 14
days. The project in Central Park is slated to exist for only
Christos draped the German Reichstag in Berlin in1995
is about the beauty of life's love and tenderness," the
artists' claim. "It is about the perishability of all things.
People forget to respect and admire the beauty of life because
they think things will always be the way they are--good or bad.
Our art comes suddenly and then goes suddenly. It reminds us
all that today is the day to love and appreciate, not tomorrow."
New York City since 1964, Christo and his wife have waited for
years for the city to approve the project. Mayor Bloomberg,
a fan of Christo, set his approval on the plans after previous
mayors denied them a forum in Central Park.
flags will fly from the 16-foot high gates positioned every
12 feet through the vermiculating pathways wending their way
through the parks nearly 900 acres. Various widths of the paths,
ranging from six to eighteen feet, create a telescoping effect
as the gates widen and narrow.
The nylon thread
to weave the saffron material represents 116,339 miles, equal
to about five trips around the earth or nearly half the distance
to the moon.
strategic intervals are steel footings for the foundations
extruded steel frames that keep the gates upright are 15,000
steel footing weights weighing between 615 and 837 pounds. The
steel footings allows the gates to be constructed without digging
or creating any holes in the earth. A total of 5,290 tons of
steel will be used as the foundations for the gates, equal to
about two-thirds of the steel employed in the Eiffel Tower.
But the real
story about The Gates isn't the 700 people working in teams
of seven to raise 100 gates for each group so the project will
be ready for its unveiling on time, the real story is about
what happens to anyone when they pass through any "gate."
people worked in teams of seven to erect the 100 gates
A gate is a passageway
from someplace to another place. It represents a demarcation
between the future and the past, good and bad, right and wrong,
day and night, plus and minus, evolution and stagnation and
a host of other concepts that only a "gate" can conjure.
For some, a gate
might represent stepping from freedom into tyranny and bondage,
for they see a gate as the forcing of one's self to conform
to whatever is on the "other side." Some might think
passing through the gate is entering a "prison," while
others might see the passageway as the triumphant arch through
which all pass on their way to fulfillment of human destiny.
A Terrorist may
see the gate as a tribute to the Western culture and that 7,500
of them is symbolic of the Western World's sense of glut and
waste, or that it represents some form of idolatry trying to
veer one's attention from the strict nature of Islam and therefore
seek to blow up one or more as a response to the hedonism of
They mean as
many things to as many people as there unique fingerprints,
and no one particular definition can be underscored as "right"
or "wrong," for art, by its nature, is bloviated and
is one absolute about The Gates.
It is a series
Gates symbolizes a series of passages: from Vigilance
to Terrorism.....or Terrorism to Vigilance
One enters and
Or, one exists
gate is a definite debarkation point from-to or to-from.
That's why the
project is, to me, The Gates Of Vigilance.
the other side of Terrorism.
the other side of Vigilance
Neither can exist
without the other, just as light cannot exist without darkness,
or life without death, good without bad, right without wrong.
one side of the gate, sits the Triad of Terrorism....
On one side of
the gate, the Terrorism side, sits the Triad of Terrorism--Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency. On the other is poised the Principles
of Vigilance: Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for the
Children's Children's Children.
As one passes
"from" "to" or "to" "from"
he or she brings along elements of both sides.
If one is inclined
to live more in the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency of life,
there will be no awareness of the passage. It will be a dull
thud, a tree falling in an silent forest, for Terrorism's most
hideous of elements--Complacency--will have driven away the
expectations that one can evolve and replace that feeling with
that only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
is not a learned trait, it is one acquired by some individuals
who simply give up on their humanity. These are the ones who
look in the mirror and see a nail and think of everyone else
in the world as a hammer. These are those who think of themselves
as a loser, a failure, a nobody, a speck of dust in a universe
of trillions of specks that has no manifest destiny but to not
"rock the boat" and walk in the shadows of all others.
the other is poised the Principles of Vigilance
The Gates of
Vigilance offer the "numb" the opportunity to awaken.
If they see the
passageway of one of the 7,500 gates as a movement from Emotional
Terrorism to Emotional Vigilance, that is, a locomotion from
Fear to Courage, from Intimidation to Conviction, from Complacency
to Right Actions for the Children's Children's Children, then
each gate offers them "freedom from" the Triad of
And, this transformation
need not be an epiphany.
Like all things
in life, Vigilance over Terrorism comes in tiny steps, minor
degrees of evolution. To achieve freedom from the Triad of Terrorism,
one needs only pass through the gates with One Percent more
Courage than Fear, One percent more Conviction than Intimidation,
One Percent more Right Actions for future generations than Complacency
(powerlessness and inaction).
The Gates of
Vigilance offer anyone 23 miles of opportunity to move through
the Triad of Terrorism into the Principles of Vigilance. They
offer 7,500 challenges to insure one of them works.
and wife reflect on the construction of a long sought
If humanity has
a failing, it is in giving up too soon, quitting before the
miracle happens, stopping a few yards from the finish line without
ever seeing how close they really are to crossing it.
That's why there
are so many gates. One can pass through many of them, as they
do in life, until they come to realize what they really mean--the
evolution of human nature above the Beast of Emotional Terror
who seeks to keep us in eternal bondage.
I can hardly
wait to walk through The Gates of Vigilance when they are completed.
But even without
the saffron, I know what awaits me.
I also know how
perishable Vigilance is, and why I will drink heavily from Christo
and Jean-Claude's well when I do travel through their Gates
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