Just got done viewing the first episode of Ken Burns’ “The National Parks – America’s Best Idea” for the second time. Apparently, I forgot to delete it from my TiVo schedule, and now it’s in re-runs. I’m glad.
This time, instead of being preoccupied with the lush cinematography and engaging storyline, I paid more attention to the voice-over itself, as a communication device. And even in the first introductory minutes of this piece, I was reminded of what an incredible storyteller Burns is.
Part of his secret is that he’s so confident in his own abilities, he’s not averse to turning the spotlight on the talents of others within his works, and letting their ideas shine through. And what a gift that is for all of us who view his work.
In this instance, there were several adeptly chosen quotes spoken over the top of said breathtaking scenery footage that revealed the particular genius of the National Park idea. One in particular, though, struck a chord in my writer’s soul.
The lengthy excerpt from John Muir’s writings used to set the tone for Burns’ entire series is, itself, breathtaking. I won’t repeat it here, but suffice to say that Muir’s writings here reveal the source of his singularity of focus and clarity of vision for what the Parks could become as the federal system was being formed.
Anyone who’s ever worked even on the periphery of government or any other mammoth bureaucracy can appreciate what kind of power it takes to move such organizations even a little in a cohesive direction. To understand the influence of Muir’s words (and, of course, his actions) on this immense, circuitous and unprecedented governmental undertaking is to truly embrace the power of the pen.
I strongly encourage you to view this series twice: Once for the initial awe-inspiring story, and then again to see example after example of the power of words and ideas to move nations. Then I encourage you to ask yourself: What have I written lately in service to the ideals I embrace?
We are all creative beings. We all have ideas worth exploring. But they can’t be explored until they’re expressed. Who have you inspired today?