The blazing reds and neon yellows of the restaurant and store signs radiated off the gray and brown bricks of the Chinatown buildings. They looked like dozens of individual flames from where we stood, stories above the sidewalk. People scurried between them, buzzing and rushing, their words torn apart by the wind. The rooftop was a glowing turquoise-blue, almost as dazzling as the view of the city’s skyline. It rested on top of an eight-story building, and, standing there, we seemed to tower over Boston and all of the lives, information, and urgency contained in its limits.
It had been a journey to get there — consisting of a scavenger hunt through the streets of Chinatown, a ride in a cramped elevator, a sprint up a flight of stairs, a scaling of a chain-link fence, and a precarious crawl over a ledge. There was no denying that we were searching for something — something we couldn’t find during our daily routines— that resided high above reality. We seemed to be pushing up and out toward something fresh and new. Surrounding us were only windows, rooftops, and horizontal light.
It was author Paulo Coelho who said, “The adrenaline and stress of an adventure are better than a thousand peaceful days.” There’s something about a little power shooting through our veins that gives the feeling of being truly alive. According to science-and-technology journalist Jeff Wise, “When we find ourselves under intense pressure, fear unleashes reserves of energy that normally remain inaccessible. We become, in effect, superhuman.” This natural superpower causes not only “hysterical strength”—as in cases of emergency that allow an approximately average person to lift up a car and save someone trapped underneath—but also acute awareness and a heightened state of mental ability. This heightened sense of living can “help you achieve and overcome whatever adversity you’re facing in that moment,” as noted by the fear-seeking and world-record-holding big-wave surfer Chris Bertish.
It seems to be no coincidence that we found ourselves 80 feet above the ground at the beginning of this new year. With the constant bombardments of breaking news in the form of politics, trends, and disappointments, as well as the numbness that seemed to accompany 2016, there was an intense need for a new sense of being. In this case, it came in the form of literal heightened living. It pushed us into both a new crispness, a sharp unknown, as well as a quiet outlook, worthy of tranquil reflection.
It’s too easy to say we were searching for perspective; instead, we were searching for a little adrenaline to help us overcome this ever-present adversity. It was like a burst of life that had the ability to unlock our stored energy, hidden away for moments of emergency. Now is the time to unleash those reserves of energy, that superhuman ability. There is something important in the feeling of your heart beating in your ears and your stomach dropping to your knees. This is what we found, standing over the world.
Text by Hannah McKennett
Photos by Goldmon Fong