Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action

I'm standing in make-believe land. Where Thelma and Louise drove off the cliff, where Indiana Jones tracked down that treasure, where massive red rocks formed the backdrop for Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Austin Powers, City Slickers. And a gazillio other films.

I'm in Moab, Utah, where Arches, a national park, unfolds just minutes outside town. But lightyears from anything I'm used to seeing.

We stop and stare at massive, brilliant red rock pillars so dramatic their names create tension: The Fiery Furnace, Devils Garden and Couthouse Towers. My favorite? The Three Gossips. And of course, Balanced Rock. I read where it weighs 7 million pounds.

Balanced Rock sits precariously upon its spire. As I walk closer, it goads me into rethinking my center of gravity. Or ducking. Logically, one sharp puff and Balanced Rock's a has been. But it stays perfectly perched.

And I'm standing for a while, just staring at this rock, wondering how it stays up there, when I see make-believe in the making.

A man (the actor) has stepped up on a rock and holds his hands out sideways while another man (the cameraman) sits on the ground, taking a picture of the man on the rock. Two more men stand behind the cameraman -- the director and producer, perhaps?

I walk closer; then I get it. They're just tourists, creating a silly picture. Here's the scene: At the angle of the camera-shoot, it looks like the "actor" is holding up Balanced Rock, preventing it from falling over. Like in this picture.

I wait. And when the picture's taken, the four men gather around the camera and laugh and pat each others' backs, because the shot's perfect.

I ask to see the picture, too. Yes, it's perfect.

As I walk away, returning my senses to what's real, I notice the four men walk apart. Apparently, they came together only for that moment of make-believe. In this land of make-believe.

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