Today is Thunder Over Louisville - our annual kick-off of Kentucky Derby Festival and an awesome display of pyrotechnics, synched to music - put on in our fair city. I am not attending this year, but in the few years I've gone it's been an energizing, pride-filled experience of what Louisville can do, how a half million people can behave in celebration (without the "public drunk" behavior that often occurs at such large events). The full hour of fireworks places one firmly in the body, in the sensory experience of explosion of sound and color that overwhelms, that draws (at least from me) screams of approval, dancing in abandon with a half million others - an experience of joyous joining together.
Then we all walk to our cars, or catch the bus to get to them. People are tired - some having camped out the night before - some having been there all day with children, too close to the folks next to them - and ready to go home. It's after 10 pm and some carry children, nearly empty coolers, lawn chairs. But still most are courteous, or at least civil, even in the knowledge that it may be after midnight before they get home.
I've found it to be a changing experience - one in which there's a glimpse of what we could do all the time, with a little joy in experiencing our neighbors, with a modicum of civility toward each other, with cooperation in our endeavors and our creative impulses. And I've often wondered if others have seen it the same way, if there aren't more like me - who feel to bring back to daily life and daily actions more light than we had before.
I feel this experience in the same way I feel the Zen Buddhist Proverb - "Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water." Before changing experiences we do what we gotta do. After, we still gotta do the daily thing. But maybe it doesn't feel like such a chore. I don't know.
What I do know is that we need the glimpses of what's possible - be it through mountaintop enlightenment - or be it through screaming and dancing with a half million others to light and sound. Maybe that's all we get in this daily world of chop wood and carry water - glimpses. Maybe it doesn't feel like enough, at times. Maybe it can be.