ZERO PLUS 1260 DAY--New York, NY, Monday, February
pristine crystals of ice carved magically into winter's fingerprints
fell fortuitously from the gauzy morning sky upon the bare branches
of New York City's 26,000 trees in Central Park, framing the
naked branches with the innocence of winter.
Just a few inches below
the tapering branches whipped millions of miles of saffron thread,
woven into the 7,500 cream sickle-colored banners hung by Christo
and his wife Jeanne Claude as part of the Big Apple's tribute
to environmental art lovingly termed by the creators: "The
snow fell onto the saffron gates forming cream-sickles
Detractors of the art
project that took more than 26 years to get approved refer to
the saffron color of the gates as a kind of "cheesey macaroni"
blend that "robs" Central Park of its natural nature
and intrudes human footprints on a natural 843-acre sanctuary
for the eight million concrete-trapped citizens of a city with
more than 10,000 miles of sidewalks and buildings that rise
so high they block the sunrise and sunset, even the night stars.
On the other hand, guys
like myself, relish the magic of human nature to overcome the
obstacles that stand in the way of expression, and find the
presence of The Gates a symbol not of detraction or denigration
but of attraction and revelation of what humans are capable
of achieving despite all the reasons to fail.
Christo and his wife
are not strangers to the Principles of Vigilance, for Vigilance
is not about "victory" but about pursuing what is
right despite all the barricades life erects along the way.
Perhaps that's why the
snowfall was so magical last night.
More than three inches
fell from eight p.m. last evening until early this morning.
I arose just before six this morning and donned my camera gear
to capture the magic of snow on The Gates.
For me, it was a matter
of capturing the Purity of Vigilance
turned into exclamation points as the snow punctuated
the power of Vigilance
Here, in Central Park,
three colors existed: the white of snow, the dark of naked bark,
and the bright, illuminating saffron of The Gates, whipping
lightly in the wind as snowflakes warmed into light drizzle.
Life is about finding
exclamation points within its most common sentences and often
drab punctuation. The Vigilant Person is looking constantly
for the "next miracle," the next "piece of magic"
that spurs the value of life and its endless adventures on to
the next station where, stepping off for a few fractional moments,
one can inhale the ecstasy of being alive to enjoy whatever
presents itself as "worthwhile."
Even the skeptics who
consider the Christo Central Park art an invasion and travesty
would have to admit that seeing the park filled with the virginity
of newly fallen snow framed in countless rippling repetition
by thousands of saffron gates standing sixteen tall and staggered
at twelve-foot intervals wasn't, in some small measure, the
result of a magic wand waved over the complacent convention
that Central Park was indeed beyond the scope of human imagination.
This imagination of what
could be despite all the forces against "what could be"
is the Power of Vigilance. Vigilance preserved when Terrorism
might have won. Long ago, the Christo team might have given
up the seemingly fruitless effort to get New York City to capitulate
to having the 150-year-old park surrender itself to the artistic
dream of a couple of people, especially those who speak with
accents and claim their art has "no meaning."
Some might say they are
Seinfield's of the art world, that like the famed television
series that was a tv show about "nothing," that in
the ultimate sense The Gates are equally about "nothing."
Logically, if one studies
what logic is, they would know that "nothing" is truly
"everything" in its purest form, for it is the sum
of all that isn't and is at the same time, thereby reducing
the emptiness to fullness, the zero to a one, black into white.
But only seeing The Gates
in the crestfallen snow could underscore this message.
There it was, the nothingness
of art marching through the everythingness of Nature, neither
obtrusive or intrusive, coexisting with the naked branch as
though each of the 7500 steel saffron frames were life in a
dormant form, waiting for the blush of Spring to return to life.
That won't happen, for
The Gates only exist for a life of sixteen days. Before the
snow that fell last night has melted, The Gates will disappear.
But their shadows will
Children, old and young,
are the benefactors experiencing the beauty of and dreams
of The Gates draped in snow
Central Park allowed
into its womb the Sentinel of Gates Vigilance. Never will the
history of the park be free from the memory of The Gates Standing
guard over the ideals of human effort and the power of human
And who benefits?
The children, of course.
The real benefactor of
seeing The Gates draped in snow are the children who dream about
the impossible and improbable. If they enjoy Parents of Vigilance,
their parents or loved ones will tell them about how two people
had a dream and worked to make it happen. They will share how
hard the two struggled to keep alive the belief that one day
their "Gates" would march through Central Park, and,
because they surrender the Beast of Terror Thoughts, that day
came to pass.
They will tell their
children that seeing The Gates go up and the snow fall on them
is like watching a live cow jump over the moon and dish run
away with a spoon. They will tell the child it is the same magic
that made every fairy tale spark to life, and that any dream
that the child has must be treated with the utmost respect and
cared for with the same tenderness of a loving parent for a
Such a parent will remind
the child there will be those "Dream Killers" who,
like a "Terrorist" will attempt to destroy the belief
in the child's imagination by doing and saying all sorts of
things to sway the child from holding tight to his or her dream.
This parent or guardian will remind the child that some people
will ask the child to throw the dream away, to cast it aside
as excess baggage that only belongs to children and not to adults,
and who will try and rip it from them under the disguise of
advice and under the banner of maturity.
The Gates is the same magic as watching the cow jump over
Such efforts, the parent
will explain, are nothing less than ways to steal the treasure
of life from someone, and that treasure consists of one's dreams
and beliefs in the improbable and impossible.
If one surrenders to
such pressures, the wise parent will say, part of them dies.
They become numb inside. Complacency sets in. And, every time
they attempt to dream in the next thing, fear of failure looms
large until there is nothing left but breathing in and out,
with no snowfall, no adventure, no hope, no dreams of what can
The Gates have been and
are for the children.
All Sentinels of Vigilance
are for the children.
The snow in Central Park,
roosting on the frames of the 7,500 gates, is our reminder of
innocence, and our need to preserve it not only in our children
and loved ones, but in ourself.
We can do that by taking
the Pledge of Vigilance.
on The Gates Pictures
and Photographer Cliff McKenzie enjoying the moment(wife
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