Yesterday morning I was awakened from my slumber rather suddenly. You see I was flying over downtown Dallas — well, more like hopping in low gravity — and had just made it past some very large arches under construction (think St. Louis x 2) when I started to come into reality. I was, in my dream, just taking a photo with my iPhone of the ceiling of some Gothic-style building in south Dallas when I opened my eyes. It was dark in my room. Dark in my windows. And the clock read 4:56. Ugh. Really? I turned over to my side and tried to force myself back to sleep but, alas, I never got to see how my iPhone picture came out. After about 15 minutes, I chuckled to myself at how weird my dream was. It was as if I was hopping on the moon, pushing off of buildings and arches and bounding into the air before gently coming down. But I knew this was fantasy. Or sci-fi. I started thinking about some of the wildest things I had observed that were real but seemed like a dream, the opposite of what I had experienced.
- The 2010 Chilean mine rescue. Can you believe it’s been over a year since those 33 miners were lifted up a 28-inch shaft from 2,000 feet below the surface of the earth? Unreal. I watched for most of 12 hours as the final drill bit punctured the deep cavity near where the miners were sheltered. And then as the shaft was reinforced near the top. And then as the first cage was sent down with one incredibly brave worker descending to the miners, the world waited to see what would happen. Would the new shaft collapse and bury the worker? Would the line snap on the sharp rocks? My experience at a mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado this summer, was the closest I’d ever get to experiencing that feeling. I remember nine of us were sandwiched into a mesh elevator at the Molly Kathleen Mine and hoisted down 1,000 feet. I remember the uncomfortableness of the cage, the sight of exposed rock flying by as we dropped at five miles an hour, the darkness of losing the sun’s light, and the increasing cold, pressure, and silence of the descent. But it was nothing compared to the plight of the 33 trapped by two mine shaft collapses. As the rescue worker descended all anyone could do was wait and pray. Then — I’ll never forget it — a camera sent down a different small shaft showed the Fenix capsule come through the ceiling of the cave and the worker, safe and sound inside, stepped out and hugged the miners. What a moment! Then, as the first miner came up the shaft, the whole world (and I) held our breath. It would take a few minutes before the capsule arrived at the surface. A bell was positioned to tell everyone when the capsule was getting close. We all waited for the bell. When it rang and the capsule rose into the Chilean night, it was so emotional I couldn’t contain myself. Over the next day, the other 32 came up to the surface. At long last, the brave worker who was the first man to reach the miners became the last man rescued. This was the most amazing, surreal moment I’ve seen on TV. But No. 2 is really close.
- The 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center towers. If you saw it live on TV, it was unbelievable. Like something out of an action movie and not real life. But this was all too real. I saw the towers collapse at the Grapevine Sun newspaper office, huddled around a small TV someone had grabbed out of storage. With rabbit ears receiving reception, we watched on ABC in horror and emotional terror as the towers fell. It was unbelievable. But it was true.
- The 1997 funeral of Princess Diana. I actually stayed up overnight to watch this sad event on an old black and white television at the head of my college dorm room bed. The pageantry was unlike anything I had seen before. I didn’t see Diana and Charles get married on TV. I was too young to remember, even if my parents watched (which I doubt they did). But I saw the funeral procession, the packed Westminster Abbey, and the service live with much interest. It was like the sad ending to a heart-wrenching drama.
- The 2011 wedding of William and Kate. This was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen on live TV. Maybe it had to do with the age-old romantic concept of a prince and princess getting married. Or maybe it was because of the thought that William and Kate might be King and Queen. The wedding sure seemed more like a coronation than simple nuptials. This time I watched a royal family ceremony through multiple lenses. I was curious about the traditional Anglican wedding ceremony and its theology. And I was curious about how the marriage was being received in Great Britain. At the time I was considering the possibility of moving to the UK, though I did not know where or when. So I watched with great interest. There’s something spiritual about a royal procession, too.
- The Reagan-Mondale debate. This one may seem to come out of left field but I vividly remember being allowed to watch this 1984 debate with my sisters on the old 19-inch push button TV in my parents’ bedroom. It was the first presidential debate I had seen and I remember Reagan being very persuasive.