Blind trust

"Harmony" presentation at Olympics

Here’s your assignment for today: slip a narrow box over your head, and let it slide down the length of your body, all the way to your knees.

This box you’re now wearing is more narrow than a casket and, unlike an MRI scan, it has no windows cut out, no soothing fan to help you overcome the knee-buckling claustrophobia you’ll feel once you realize you can’t see, you can’t move your arms, and breathing is difficult in this hot, suffocating space.

Now imagine there is another person standing next to you, wearing a similar box, and you are surrounded by six hundred other people with similar boxes, and you’re all crammed into a tiny space that allows no movement other than up and down.

Sound like a scene out of a Stephen King novel? Nope, it’s what several hundred Chinese men endured to present the Harmony show, just one of the many presented at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Viewed from the top, we didn’t see that this display – which resembled one of those boxes with hundreds of loose, dull nails that you can put over your face or hand and pull it back to see it represented in 3-D. In their confining individual chambers, the men moved in perfect synchronization to create a wave effect and, every now and then, the Chinese character for “HARMONY” stood out in relief.

When they revealed that the display was made up of hundreds of individual people stuffed in this narrow tubes, I was stunned. Not being able to see, how did they synchronize their movements? A friend suggested that each man wore headphones, each person had an assigned number, and each one stood up when they heard their number.

What planning. What patience and endurance to execute the master plan.

So like writing a novel, isn’t it? We know our characters, we’ve plotted turning points and our protagonist’s inner story, but in those early chapters, we’re in the dark; the story tries our courage. What if we step out of time and ruin the big picture? But we approach the keyboard and trust the master plan, and in the end, we emerge, blinking, owl-like, from having been confined in a dark, scary space, and we face the sun.

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