That Hold Your Breath Moment
I don’t think we have the same experience going to the theatre today as the Greeks did in the ancient world. As moving as it may be, theatre is more of a private or an intimate experience now. We might chat amiably with a stranger before the show, all turn off our cell phones in unison, and even share popcorn with a friend, but when the lights dim we are in our own world.
Recently I went to a baseball game and wonder if the experience has some connection to ancient drama as the Greeks knew it. While sitting in the upper deck, I felt the intensity and single minded focus of the crowd suddenly raise me up in a collective sense of awareness. My senses were sharper and clearer and yet I felt I was resting in something. Things looked clearer, sounds seemed sharper. We all seemed to follow the action with one collective mind -the dramatic climax of the game or what one young person I knew dubbed “that hold your breath moment.”
Imagine this same moment with 14,000 people in a beautiful natural setting, in the presence of great art and a god you fervently believe in. Nature, art, group connection and belief are some of the natural healing therapies and healthy life style choices we have begun to recover and embrace in our world today. Although their science was not on the level of ours, the ancient Greeks seemed to understand the power and importance of these powerful forces, particularly when they worked together. On weekend nights during the summer you can still see productions of ancient Athenian plays at Epidauros, high in the mountains of Greece. The site is about 150 kilometers, or 90 miles from Athens. It’s quite a place. If you can’t get there, maybe you can get some of the flavor at the closest ballpark. I did.