Living More Than a Thousand Percent

I saw this review of a new movie called Man on Wire and it led me to search back in my archives for something from, as it turns out, 2003. The film is about Philippe Petit, the man who crossed the World Trade Centers on a wire back in 1974, and I had seen a PBS show about it that was particularly fascinating. The archived post is from the Booze Cabinet’s Lost Barchives (not actually lost, but on my computer instead of online). I copied these quotes from there–this one is about his reaction to the events of 9/11:

I was upstate New York when I heard of the towers being destroyed. A side of me was not believing it. It was a very strange blend of feelings. One was the sorrow, the horror at witnessing human life being obliterated for no reason like that. And I felt something beyond words. I felt almost an alive part of me being squeezed to nothing, being extracted, an evisceration almost. It’s an interesting question, when you saw those two giant towers collapse almost cleanly on themself: Where did they go? I have read in some architecture article that they were made mostly of air — if you consider the space between the solid molecules, the steel, the concrete, the glass, the aluminum — there was a lot of air. Was mostly air, actually. And they disappeared. It was– “Where did they go” was part of the disbelief that I was feeling. Because how you can make 200,000 tons of steel disappear? It’s unbelievable.

And later he is asked why he did it:

Petit: That’s the thousandth “why” this morning. There’s no why. Just because when I see a beautiful place to put my wire, I cannot resist.

Reporter: 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. The dream was as big as the towers. There was no way it could be taken away from me by authority, by reason, by destiny. It was really anchored to me in such a way that life was not conceivable without doing this.

“Living more than a thousand percent.” That is the quote that I was searching for. I love it.


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