Sunday, September 6, 2009

A colorful footprint

I spent some time in Chicago's O'Hare airport yesterday, and got to take a couple of pictures of something I've always loved: the underground passage between Concourse B and Concourse C in Terminal One. Officially called "The Sky's the Limit," it's a 744' long kinetic neon sculpture designed by artist Michael Hayden, and it's fabulous.

Not only are the colors in the neon tubes overhead always changing as you stand or stroll on the moving walkways; there's also music, sort of like bells, playing an accompaniment to the shifting colors.

To me it's always seemed a monument to creativity: I love that someone put this much thought into a transition; that someone understood how stressed people feel in airports as they rush from gate to gate; that someone took the time to imagine a world of color, light and sound that would both soothe and encourage thousands of travelers a day.

I met a wonderful woman on the plane yesterday. We weren't seatmates, but we met when we had to grab all our gear and leave one plane, walk from the C to the B concourse, and re-embark onto another plane. She, too, lives on Bainbridge Island, and she, too, was returning from having dropped a child off at college. Later, riding the ferry together, she talked about the importance of leaving a positive footprint.

Both of us -- though we had done other things -- felt that raising children had been our most significant contribution to date, but that the time had come to make some other contribution to the amazing world in which we have been privileged to live. Not everyone can do something as significant as "The Sky's the Limit", of course, and not everyone has the opportunity to affect as many lives as the artist who designed this colorful transition.

But as I read John O'Donohue's words in Anam Cara this morning, about the many ways we humans have of seeing -- with fearful eye, or greedy eye, or judgmental eye; with resentful eye, or indifferent eye, or inferior eye -- I really want to thank Michael Hayden, and the folks at O'Hare who had the vision to hire him. Because I think they saw all those of us passengers who are rushing or struggling through the airport -- many of whom may well be in the throes of significant emotion because of what they are leaving behind or traveling to -- with the eyes of love, and gave us a significant gift.

Even though we are in the passageway for only a minute or three, it's like walking through a fountain, or a waterfall, and endlessly refreshing. I am always inspired by this work, and hope that someday something I do will prove to leave a footprint that has similarly restorative qualities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You DO provide restoration to my soul. It may not be as significant as Hayden's work or reach as many people...wait, who is to say it ISN'T as significant...reminds me of the Jewish saying, (something like...) "Save one life, save the world." I read your blog post or poem, you restore me, then I pass on a good word or work to another and so on and so on...