Begun by stunt actor and former sailor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, Flagpole sitting was a fad in the mid to late 1920s. On a dare or as a publicity stunt, it’s unclear which, Kelly sat on a flagpole in 1924 for 13 hours and 13 minutes. Many sought the world record for flagpole sitting, and the current record is held by Daniel Baraniuk of Poland who spent 196 days on top of a pole in 2002.
The inspiration for flagpole sitting came from Simeon Stylites (c. 390-459). Stylites was a Christian saint in Syria who supposedly lived on a small, elevated platform and spent his time preaching, fasting, and praying. His reason for choosing this location?
“To escape the pressures of daily existence.”
Stylites inspired others in the ancient world to perform similar acts, and those individuals became known as “stylites.”
By the way, Simeon Stylites died sitting on his platform.
Today, many ways exist to accomplish escapism. Though, most are decidedly more comfortable than pole or platform sitting.
Television. Video Games. Reading. Movies. Shopping. Drinking. Drugs. Hiking. Exercising. Eating.
Escape for a little while, in healthy ways, is a good idea. Life does get overwhelming quite easily, after all. Yet, even healthy forms of escape can become unhealthy when they become escapism.
I’m all for getting away from “the daily pressures of existence” from time to time, but I realize that to do so in a way that fails to ever confront and/or exist in reality is akin to dying on top of an elevated platform.
Instead, seek to find balance between rest and activity. Marriage and parenting have taught me that this balance exists differently for everyone. However, the Bible tells me that there is one aspect of finding balance that is the same for everyone.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
Waiting for the Lord does not mean doing nothing. It means letting go and trusting him to work in your life. It involves spending focused time with him every day by studying his word and by talking to him.
Waiting is the only way I’ve ever really come to a point where I don’t need to escape from life. It’s the only way I’ve ever found lasting peace.