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My Outlook - Looking beyond what we think we'll see

My Outlook for this week.
Shelley Column Pic

One of the travel trends many are looking forward to resuming is phenomena travel; heading to a region of the world to witness in person a naturally occurring phenomenon. Some favorites are cherry blossom trees, northern lights, an ice volcano or the crab migration. Depending on the event, some have a smaller window than others so planning the trip to occur at just the right time is an important factor in its success. Even good planning though can’t guarantee you will see the phenomenon at its peak. Nature doesn’t follow our personal agendas. 

It isn’t just sights in nature that could be different than anticipated. The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower may attract the majority of attention when it comes to landmarks in Paris but it is the Arc de Triomphe that is turning heads right now thanks to the artistic effort “L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped”. The famous structure is spending 16 days encased in 323,000 square feet of fabric, silvery blue in color. The fabric is held in place by 22, 960 feet of rope, allowing it to billow and move with the breeze.

The concept was created by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude who draped other landmarks, waterways and islands in their career. Both artists have passed away, but others have taken up their work to see this vision realized. So, if you were in Paris, how might you react if one of the stops on your itinerary looked remarkably different than you were anticipating? Perhaps you would be frustrated that you weren’t seeing the arch in the way you expected or maybe you’d be thrilled that your time in the city coincided with this project.

I was able to fulfill a dream when I was in Indiana and got to spend time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. There is a great museum on site with all kinds of race cars and driver exhibits, and you can have your picture taken with the Borg-Warner trophy, presented to every winning driver since 1936. The 5-foot tall trophy is a classic and I couldn’t wait to stand beside it and pose for a picture. Except it wasn’t there. When we visited it was in France with the previous year’s Indy winner, Simon Pagenaud. 

A couple travelled to South Carolina for their wedding, wanting to return to a location they had visited years before. A pretty spot near a creek at a local park was their chosen destination. They received permission to use the space, but so did an organization that was hosting a city-wide kids’ day. The accidental double booking meant the wedding ceremony was competing with fire engines and bouncy castles. 

No matter what sort of event we are anticipating, variables totally beyond our reach can affect our experience. Crowds, closures, weather, traffic, and equipment malfunctions are just some of the potential elements that can impact the overall picture for any of us. While we can’t change those variables, we certainly can determine what our attitude is going to be as we deal with them.

The team that draped the Arc de Triomphe were carrying out the vision of artists who wanted their work to act as a disrupter. By temporarily covering well-known monuments, they hoped to get people to think twice about what’s around them and look again at what they might pass by without much regard. In the unexpected perhaps something new can be discovered. 

While some brides and grooms might be irritated having their wedding day dreams overshadowed by cotton candy machines and rambunctious children, this couple decided against blaming anyone for the mix-up and instead embraced the unexpected situation, even posing with some of the costumed characters brought in to entertain the kids.

No, I didn’t get to pose with the Borg-Warner trophy but the temporary exhibit at the museum that summer put me up close and personal with memorabilia from one of the sport’s foremost drivers, as well as an examination of the cultural impact of his career. Historical and sociological analysis wrapped up together in one large interactive display—pure gold for me.

There are a lot of things in life that seem to happen like that. Knowing we don’t control the variables should make us all the more aware that we are in charge of our response.  Maybe we didn’t get to see what we came for, but perhaps we were able to see so much more as a result. That's my outlook.