What Books Can Do: Starclimber

Saturday found me at a high school football field nearly 2 hours away from home. I was in the middle of reading Kenneth Oppel's Starclimber and quite engrossed in it as the game in front of ours droned on and on. My brother, the one actually playing football, was with his team, mentally preparing for the game ahead, and I was seated on my camera case with my back against the chain link fence. Reading this:
     "I smiled. Over the Pacificus he'd seen me swing from a rope into the gondola of a sinking hot-air balloon. And he knew how Vikram Szpirglas had pushed me off the Aurora's back, and I'd flown and grabbed hold of the ship's fins. Lighter than air, they used to say about me..."
     "...But I saw no point in waiting. I leapt, arms out, putting on a bit of a show, and giving a whoop of delight as a I soared through the air. I'd never feared heights. Funny, how time can stretch out so long when you're moving so fast. each second was like a little room I could explore. Clouds through the coliseum's open roof, one in the shape of a blue whale. Light on the tiers of arena seats. the faded chalk lines of the racetrack. The ground attendants watching my fall, hands raised to shield their eyes from the sun." - Starclimber, by Kenneth Oppel, Chapter 7
And then came time to film, but my position was no ordinary press box. No, I was to climb up a rusty, welded contraption that seemed firm in the grass but did, I should add, have two wheels and a trailer hitch that meant it was mobile. About halfway up was a level perfect for setting purse, camera case, and tripod, but then came the most difficult part: that of climbing the ladder (with said objects) and ending with all of them in the fenced square on top.

For all the things I am afraid of (see yesterday's post), I have no phobia of heights. A respect, yes, but I don't panic, and many times I even enjoy them. This was one of those times. After living in Matt Cruse's world and mind, I clambered up that ladder like nobody's business. Getting the purse and tripod up was easy; the camera case was a bit more difficult. There were strips of welded metal forming a sort of barrel-like cage around the ladder, which gave me a place to set the case as I switched hands and positions, but also made it cumbersome because it didn't quite fit.

People saw me from the stands and asked me if I needed help. I said, "No," more because there was nothing they could do. And because I was invigorated and in my own world of adventure, not that of a small highschool stadium.

I was Matt Cruse, swinging from the rigging on some death-defying mission. Any mistake would be a fatal one, and I would fall miles (20 feet) before crashing on the rocks below. (Not that any mistake could have been fatal; I was in the welded barrel-cage. It was rather impossible to fall.)

Then, when I reached the top, victorious, I stood up and faced the wind. It blew my hair back and whipped it away from my face. There was a storm coming, and small sprinkles of rain spattered my face. They became the mist of ocean that sprays up from the prow of the ship. I squinted and thought, "This is why I love sailing. This is why I'll never leave the sea."

Because of the rain, I couldn't film much. I just imagined. I was in a crow's nest, sailing to far-off places. I had no fear of heights, no fear of falling, no fear of anything. I just was adventurous, and I was happy, despite the threat of pirates and sea monsters and tipped ships from the storm. When a gust of wind blew my tripod over and opened the lid of my camera case, it was a life-and-death situation. Close the case! Compact the tripod! Keep your footing, men!

This is what books can do. How have books inspired you?

Oh, and my brother made two tocuhdowns and one reception for a 30-yard gain. So it was a good day.

1 comment:

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, I'm afraid just reading this. Heights and I do not get along. But I have been inspired by books to be a better person. Watch more. Speak less. Be better.

Congrats to your brother!