The Leap

I would like to be able to describe the exact nature of the thing that brings me back to blogging. Is it inspiration? Necessity? The desperate desire to shout into the wilderness?

It is not a surfeit of time, I can tell you that much. Neither is it a deep and abiding confidence that writing here will about-face the daily announcements of calamity facing our shared values of compassion; reasoned engagement with one another; truth, both material and metaphysical; human autonomy and the public good. For now, it’s just a feeling—a feeling that there are things in the world that are delightful and wondrous and strange, and they are worth contemplation and the words expended to describe their sublimity, no matter how minute. A feeling, an impulse, a vague glimmer of a notion far away on the horizon.

My current delight: the Sundance short documentary “Ten Meter Tower,” which centers on a central conceit: people climb up the ladder of high dive and confront the fear of jumping. In its first minutes, it seems almost absurdist; a static camera records the platform and captures the silent contemplation of the perhaps-divers, one after another. As the video continues, however, something else emerges. Out of the array of responses to the challenge of fear comes a pattern of bravery. We cheer for those who take the leap, urging them toward the edge, reading their various rationales and rationalizations in real time, hoping for the sign that they’re resolved to go over. (I confess that my current favorite is the young man who takes the time to tell his compatriot “I’m not really present” to her encouragement, even as his knees buckle beneath him.) In a NYTimes article, the filmmakers, Maximilien Van Aertyrck and Axel Danielson, note the dual poles of the short. On the one hand, they describe it as  “a portrait of doubt,” and yet, the triumph of the series of leaps speaks to the desire for a unifying essentialism: “Overcoming our most cautious impulses with bravery unites all humankind.”

“Ten Meter Tower” makes us feel that hope for essentialism and suspend, for a moment, our necessary and intimate grappling with the realities of difference. I cheer for our leaps and everything necessary to convince us to take them.