Thursday, July 5, 2007


In all of the discussions about 4th of July plans this last week I made a comment to one of my coworkers about how jaded we as adults tend to become to the spectacle of fireworks. Yes we will watch them year after year, "ooooo" and "ahhhhh" as we pick out our favorite variety
(mine being the "willow tree sparkler" as I like to call it), and go away saying "wasn't that a great show!" But for many of us I think that the wonder and awe is all but gone. Its the "you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" adage. I mean admit it - you've figured out how to anticipate the loud boom based on when you see the trail of light going up in the air. You've been spoiled by Disney's perfectly on tempo shows that any firework off the beat of the music is more a nuisance than a display of beauty. And of course knowing that the most impressive part of the fireworks show is always the grand finale - shooting off fireworks one by one is really just a clever way to be able to advertise the longest show in town right?

Sounds a little cynical I know but I'll admit that thoughts like this do creep into my mind on occasion. That is why I strongly believe that to fully enjoy the spectacle of fireworks you need to be in the company of a child . . . well at least that is in the company of someone who still thinks like a child. A person like Jamin for instance.

During my visit to Germany last year Parker and I had the great fortune to be alongside Jamin for two firework displays. Both were held in amazing settings - one over a castle in the mountains, the other over a castle along the river. Both shows were very well done and the scenery only added to the joy of the moment but I can remember thinking to myself "they were good but they weren't much different from American fireworks shows." Ha, ha . . . the thought makes me cringe now - I don't know what I was expecting. Jamin on the other hand, who by the way had seen fireworks shows in these very same locations the year prior and should have been more disillusioned than I, could not wait for them to begin. I dinstinctly remember standing beside him at the second of the two and laughing as with the explosion of each firework Jamin would jerk his head backwards as he uttered the word "Woah!" as if he had never seen anything like it before. The joy of the situation, though, was that the excitement was completely spontaneous. It was almost as if he couldn't help his reactions even if he tried, though I knew better based on an understanding of his both his superior maturity and self-control levels. His facination was completely authentic and personal. I honestly believe that even if Parker or I, or the thousands of other people were not on the bridge that night Jamin still would have taken it in with as much enthusiasm. That was his gift - continually finding joy in the small things - things that most adults gave up on years ago. The special thing about Jamin though is that when you were around him he shared that gift with you.

Later that evening a couple of his friends joined us for the remainder of the festival we were attending. Always the gentleman the first order of business was introductions but immediately following were these words "Oh man, you guys missed the best fireworks show EVER! I mean this thing seriously must have lasted like 30 minutes!" I have to laugh now as I think how Jamin was more disappointed for them that they missed out than they were themselves.

I don't know if that was his last fireworks show - it very possibly could have been I suppose. The good news is that it was the "best EVER!" though I have no doubt any subsequent shows would have been in close race for this title with Jamin's childlike wonder ever-present.

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