Recently I watched The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and directed by Forrest Gump’s Robert Zemeckis (back in true form!).
It’s about the guy who walked from one Trade Center building to the other – on a tightrope. Besides this movie being added to my favorites (The King’s Speech, Moneyball, and Frost/Nixon), I gained a new hero.
Many people, I’m sure, would look at Philippe Petit and say he’s a fool. An idiot. An egotistical bigot who had nothing to prove.
I look at him and I see guts. I see heart. I see a passion to push life to the limits.
If you were to ask him why he put his life on the line (pun), and did what he did, I’m sure his answer would have been: “Parce que je savais ce que je devais.” – “Because I knew I had to.”
He’s not a hero because he saved anyone’s life or rescued cats from a burning building. For all we know, like most of us, he was never in a position to do those things. (I can’t remember the last time I found a cat trapped inside any burning building I’ve found myself in.)
He’s a hero because he inspired others to do what they need to do. To break out of the mundane emptiness of the world and follow your heart.
Sounds like a bunch of sparkly fairy wishes made in some far corner of Neverland, right?
Try standing at the South Tower and, as Philippe steps onto it from the tightrope, ask him if he regrets his daring act.
Kneel at the edge of the pool and ask Michael Phelps if he regrets training for thousands of hours of his life to become an Olympic gold medalist.
Visit Cape Canaveral and read the inscriptions on the walls to see if you detect any hint of regret that Neil Armstrong risked his life to walk on the moon.
Ask Jim Morris if he regrets fighting the odds to become the oldest Major League baseball player in the AAA.
Do you think Billy Beane regrets risking his career to experiment with an untried theory to get his failing Athletic A’s to nearly win the World Series? (Sorry, I’m already getting pumped for baseball season.)
And I hope, in a year, two years, three years, when you ask me if I regret all the risks and hard work I put into my publishing company I’m starting, I’ll tell you that I didn’t regret a thing.
And when you ask me why I did it, I’ll respond: “Parce que je savais ce que je devais.” (Except I’ll sound more like my two-year-old reciting the Gettysburg Address in Latin.)
Follow me on Twitter: @atoy1208 or Facebook so you can watch my progress as I build my new publishing company and meet my assembled team. Why would you care to watch? Because I’m a regular person just like you. The difference is, I’m stepping off the building onto a very thin line. And I’ll wave to you as I walk past.