Rooftops & Wires By: Ashley Gallagher

“To live on the edge of life, you have to exercise rebellion.”

(-Man On Wire-)IMG_8648_b

From one of the greatest documentaries comes one of the greatest inspirations for accomplishing the extraordinary.

Standing on the rooftop of a flat in Tel Aviv, I have to wonder, what is it to accomplish something extraordinary and have I done it? No, I realize, not yet, my life has years ahead and many more rooftops to take in the sunset.

I find it is not the location traveled which makes an epic life, rather; it is what you do with it, how you take where you go to the next level and how you design your road, your story.

Fishing for the adventure is not difficult; making it work can be exceedingly more complicated. Philippe Petit had known for years he was meant to walk on wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center – long before it was finished. Years before one the Greatest US symbols was completed, he began planning his great feat but he also found, there were a great many challenges and at times, he thought, this is impossible.

I face the same dynamic dare. I am examining my Wire and as I evaluate its placement, the right time and even the fear of its possibility, I come across moments of doubt and unwilling constituents. Nevertheless, I am finding each deep breath in one of serenity.

So, even when the waves were slim to none, I took a board out the Mediterranean Sea just feel the depth of the waters underneath me. The smell of the salt and sea air, a deep breath into the dangerous and overwhelming current – just to feel the plush of cleansing and gracious waters surge over me.

I often wonder if my life would make for a great documentary and therefore a heroic story. I don’t know if I am there yet, and if that’s what I look for, then the power to create it – is my own.

Last year I took one of the greatest risks, against all odds and disputes, I picked up – and came to the Middle East to see just what all the fuss was about. What I have found in the last few months is an extraordinary openness of a culture most Americans can only speculate. I have been welcomed into people’s homes and offered smiles that could turn a light on in a dark room.IMG_8628cb

Just the other day, I walked through my favorite market in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, turned backwards from my end destination. An older Jewish man approached me to ask what I was looking for – when I told him, he said, “Come, I help you find this place and I will walk with you until we find it together. You can call me ‘Mr. Helpie.’ – as we walked locating the street I needed to be on, he told me stories of his children, how he was a baby during the holocaust and all the things I should tell President Obama when I get back to the States. He told me it felt good to help me and he hoped we would meet again.

When I stand on the edge of cliffs, I have this terrible habit of jumping off. And when I free fall, there’s always the chance I may walk away with my face smashed in (I know it’s morbid, but work with me here), but there’s also that chance I will find out just what I’ve been missing…and who I have been missing.

So what is my Wire? Wouldn’t you like to know? The places I go are intertwined with the people who fill them, the extension of the Earth’s great wonders, waves and terrain. Each photograph is a moment with the spirit of which it belongs and capturing it is stealing a piece of the story no one will ever find again because each moment is a change from the last.

 I dare to embezzle from everywhere and as I do, I aim against the grain. If they say I can’t, I will. If they no, I say yes, – because there are acts of rebellion which defy what is said to be impossible. It breaks the law of society’s rules and ordinances. And frankly, I’m just too interested in the rewarding consequence.1

Petit crossed that wire in 1974 and he danced along the edge as the police waited for him. The sight, they say, was incredibly beautiful. And indeed, even after he was arrested, there was nothing to take his moment of triumph.

From the rooftop in Tel Aviv – what lies next I have no idea, I can only hope – I arrive in the police’s hands grinning from ear to ear, knowing…just knowing. 

 

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