Bliss Notes Friday: Fireworks

the fireworks started.
And they were beautiful.
– Ian Falconer, Olivia Forms a Band

Many of us watched a fireworks display as part of the Canada Day and Fourth of July celebrations this week. It seems that no matter how technologically sophisticated we get, we will never tire of watching the 2000 year old spectacles of light and sound.

Fireworks have been used as part of major celebrations throughout history, marking royal weddings and births, and political victories. Fireworks have also been used in film as a way of expressing passion. Who can forget the kiss between Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief? (“If you really want to see fireworks, it’s better with the lights out”) Or the ironic use of fireworks in the Dunder Mifflin parking lot as Andy’s impulse proposal to Angela thwarted Jim’s planned proposal to Pam.

While we love a good professional fireworks display like Monte-Carlo’s International Fireworks Festival (oh, to be lounging on a yacht draped in Dolce and Gabbana, watching the pyrotechnics with the beautiful people), we are not huge fans of DIY fireworks (whenever we drive by a roadside stand, the vendors do not give off an “our first thought is your safety” sort of vibe.) Still, there are ways to capture the magic of fireworks without burning down the house. Now that we are older and can be trusted around objects that reach 1000 degrees, we adore sparklers. They add a festive touch to a birthday cake (once we reached 21, the candle for every year thing became overwhelming). And is there any more spectacular way to finish off a summer evening than to serve a bowl of Fire and Ice beneath the stars (vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and coconut served in a big crystal bowl, covered with four or five lit sparklers).

We like how sparklers remind us to look for life’s wahoo moments. In the 1998 movie Very Bad Things, (cross-reference under “bliss can be found in the strangest of places”) Jeremy Piven’s character, Mike, is sharing a childhood memory with his friend Kyle, played by the fabulous Jon Favreau:

Mike: Dad used to bring home these sparklers for me and Adam, you know? (laughs) Sparklers! We’d go out back, the three of us – and we’d hold it up to the sky and watch the explosions of light and the sparks, you know, and Dad would be all “Wait for it! Here it comes! Watch for it! Here comes the wahoo!”

Kyle:  Wahoo?

 Mike: Wahoo. The sparkler would burn hot, then hotter, then even hotter, and then there’d be this one moment of pure burn when [it] . . . would cook perfect, just perfect. It would only last a second, but that second was it. And that’s what Dad had us looking for, man.

Kyle: The wahoo moment?

Mike: That’s exactly right. . .  All the forces coming together – burning – just perfect, perfect harmony. That’s what I’m driving at. Are you with me?

Kyle: I think so.

Mike: I have been looking for that flash. I’ve been looking and I’ve been looking, and I can’t find it. What if it already happened, you know? My moment! What if it already happened and I didn’t see it?

Fireworks can remind us to look for that moment when we experience pure joy and are in perfect harmony with the universe. Sometimes it happens when we are working on a project we feel passionate about, or when we are laughing with a good friend, or when we are sitting by the ocean listening to the waves. When things are going well and we feel perfectly at peace, God is telling us that we are on the right path. That’s wahoo. And while Mike is right to worry that we can be so bedazzled by the bright lights and busyness that we miss these moments, he is wrong to think that we only get one chance at wahoo. Life offers us an infinite number of opportunities to be in alignment with the universe, if only we can quiet our minds for long enough to attune ourselves to the signal.

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