The reason I'm posting now is that I had an amazing experience yesterday and I just wanted to make sure that I don't forget it. As many people know, because it's been all over the news, an artist named Christo has been setting up these big gates in Central Park. Now personally I have mixed feelings about this project, the whole thing seems a little silly to me, but since I learned that it's all privately funded and that no money that should go to preserving the park is being wasted on it I'm less hostile towards it than I was (Towards the beginning of the set up I convinced a friend of mine to urinate on one of the installations. One act of ridiculous art deserves another, at least that was my logic at the time.) What the Gates have done is changed the dynamic in Central Park. The saffron hangings aren't unfurled yet and nobody's quite sure how to react to all these giant orange structures covering all the paths and redefining the spatial relationships of the park. It was this change in atmosphere the convinced me that filming this project would be a good idea, so after striking up a partnership and idea with my Israeli friend I went out yesterday with my video camera intending to spend a couple hours filming the structures going up and some shots of the bare bones look they have now. I ended up staying in the park for five hours and getting two hours of footage. I took no breaks at all and even though I hadn't eaten lunch when I started at 1 PM and despite the fact that I sort of had to urinate even going into the project in the first place except for some back pain caused by odd camera angles I felt absolutely fine. Now for someone my size to be lugging a camera through a park for 5 hours is not as easy as it probably should be, but despite climbing every staircase I could find with gates on them and not sitting down for even one moment I felt better than I have for quite some time.
In point of fact the whole experience was like one extended high. I have never done drugs so I can't directly compare the experience to taking substances, but it certainly felt like descriptions I have read. The first hour and a half was just Euphoria, pure pleasure that left me smiling and filled with joy and a sense of well-being. Then the feeling trailed off to just a sense of quiet pleasure. This lasted until I got home at which point I crashed a little and felt tired and achy. The thing is, it wasn't the gates that made me feel that way, it was the filming. I got some really interesting shots and though many were sabotaged by my camera work just being able to conceive of them and plan them out was unbelievable. I can't describe the fullness of it. The closest I can get is it was like finding out that the thoughts you have and the things you do really matter. I know that doesn't quite make sense, but the process was not entirely logical. When walking around normally I often look around me and am overwhelmed by all the detail and stimulation surrounding me, but with a camera I can isolate on things and focus in on them and view them from different angles and keep the images for later review. It's a crystallization of my normal thought processes and it felt glorious. I spent about $1750 all-told on the camera and various supplies for it, and I've only used it for my school project and then yesterday, but with the overwhelming pleasure of yesterday it feels like money well-spent. Late in the day I started to worry that I'd be robbed, carrying around a video camera like that, but for some reason it seemed worth it. I didn't care about the money, the reason, any of it. I was just caught up in the experience and the pleasure of it and nothing else seemed to matter much. It was incredible.
Today at around 12:30 I'm going to the Israeli's house and he's going to lend me his bigger fancier camera so I can go back and repeat the experience, maybe get a few interviews on tape. He wants to work on the project too but he's recovering from the flu and his doctor doesn't want him going out in the cold. I couldn't feel the cold yesterday when I was out, my body just didn't respond to it, but when I got home my legs and arms were cold for hours, even wrapped up in a blanket. I lay in bed and read an old Calvin and Hobbes book and felt like I was 10 years old again in from a day out at play and trying to get warm in front of a roaring fire.
I read an article about a Meth user in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on Wednesday, and to be honest I think I understand the "Chasing the high" phenomenon that makes people relapse. When you're in that state all your problems melt away and you just feel so...wonderful...that you'd do almost anything to return there. Now for me what I was doing probably didn't have quite the high of Crystal Meth, but it also lacked some of the downsides. For one thing it's something that many people do for a living, and something I would like to eventually be compensated for, so my superego wasn't telling me I was doing something wrong. For another there's the fact that it's completely legal and has no negative health consequences (In fact I was 2 pounds lighter this morning than the morning before, even though I had quite a large dinner.) The high was still quite real, though, and I am approaching this afternoon with both excitement and fear. Excitement because I get to go back and try it again, fear because what if it's not quite as good as it was before? At least I now know that I made the right decision in not applying to law school and choosing instead to follow this dream of mine no matter how unlikely success may be. That level of bliss from yesterday...it's unprecedented in my life. I have heard about it and I guess I thought it was something that happened to other people. I didn't believe that I could experience it myself, didn't think it was in my psychology. Who knows, maybe it wasn't before. I was depressed for like 10 years, perhaps I couldn't reach that emotional high during that time. Maybe that depression helped me understand just how precious the feeling was. Who knows. The closest I have ever been to that feeling is probably downhill skiing with my dad. When everything was going just right and I was swishing down the mountain and looking for jumps and just feeling the mountain under me, knowing that there was hot cocoa and action movies waiting for me in the evening and just feeling like everything was right with the world. I didn't think I'd ever reach that again.
I know my writing was a little scattered and confusing, but the truth is I don't want to over analyze the experience, I don't want to think too hard about it. It's a butterfly and I don't want to crush it.