follow tali on ...

the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

Life is Beautiful

I attended the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas last month. Ironic then that the man who opened fire at the Route 91 festival a week later was supposedly in a rented B&B a week earlier, looking over those of us at the Life is Beautiful festival, ready to make his move if he saw the right opportunity. I remember thinking to myself that it would be a particular blow to humanity’s morale if at the very fest where the beauty of life (art, culture, ideas, music, and, naturally, food) was being celebrated, a large contingent of it was taken. For my own sake, I remain grateful the shooter didn’t pick my festival, and remain horribly sad and disturbed that he picked any festival at all. I mean, should any of us have to spend these festivals—or any event with large gatherings—worried about this? What’s beautiful about that kind of life? 

It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot, and I know others have too. I’ve never heard more people remark about their uneasiness (to the point of changing future plans) at attending large events. I’ve never seen certain of my friends so down (to the point of not feeling up to their normal activities). “It’s a numbers game,” a lady at work mentioned after the Vegas shooting. Implying that the randomness and general uncommonness (when compared to how many concerts and festivals happen in the world every day) suggest you’ll probably be OK. But that hardly feels comforting. And even though we accept the possibility of our demise every time we so much as get in the car every morning, I understand our collective pause over this. I do.

And yet.

We must live our lives.

So I flew to Albuquerque over the weekend and took in the hot air balloon festival with an estimated 80,000 other people. It’s not that it didn’t occur to me that it would have only taken one of them to make tragedy for the rest of us, but I pushed through those side-minded anxieties and took in the world from a sky-high balloon as the sun rose. There were balloons in every direction up there, everywhere, all of us rising together in a mass ascension. When it comes to memorable views, I’ve never seen its equal.

The bottom line, see, is that life really is beautiful. It’s beautiful every day. I hope we can remember that. And I’d rather go out on a hot air balloon at sunrise than sitting in my house worrying about the state of the world. But maybe that’s just me.


They Called the Wind Mariah


I should have taken this picture. I've been dreaming for months about taking this picture. I flew to Denver this past weekend and then drove to Colorado Springs to attend the Colorado Balloon Classic and take this picture. And yet, I did not take this picture. I did not, in fact, take *any* pictures. 

Not really sure why I latched onto this event when I first heard about it, but I guess the idea of seeing all that color sail away in the early morning sky struck me as, for lack of a better word, special; cathartic in some way. I felt an urgency to be there and see it, which is why I think I was more disappointed than any of the kids in attendance when both the night and morning launches were cancelled on account of wind. That's right, folks. Zero balloons. That's how many I saw. 

I'd be lying if I said I didn't mourn the balloons a little. I'd looked forward to seeing them for so long, and it's not the kind of experience you can get another chance at very often. But life is life, and weather is fickle. And I was still able to drive through the trees and mountains of Colorado, stare Pike's Peak and Castle Rock head on, and sit on a hillside overlooking the empty patch of sky that would have been filled with hot air balloons had Mother Nature dealt a slightly more calming hand that day.

For some reason what came to mind was the time a friend asked me--directly following the Oregon Ducks' 2012 Rose Bowl win, which of course was directly following their national championship loss-- to pick which outcome I preferred in general: a Rose Bowl win or a BCS loss. My first instinct was to say the win, because, hey, I'm no fool. But I told him I'd rather make it to the Big Game and lose, and I stand by that. Because we don't always get what we want, the stars don't always align in our favor, but I find there is satisfaction in being there anyway. Even if you lose. Even if you see zero balloons. It's enough to know that had the fates allowed, you would have been been on hand to witness something great.