Flying High

One of my favorite acts at the circus is the trapeze. High-fliers doing the impossible. Defying gravity as they flip and fly gracefully across space in ways that humans are not meant to do. And they never seem to fall. (I’m not even sure why they have nets. They seem to be never needed as perfection sparkles and floats under the lights of the big top.)

I often tell my patients that growing up psychologically is like doing a trapeze act. We must leave our comfort zone of the stand (is that even the technical name for it?). We swing through the air, white-knuckling the bar we know – our well-worn adaptations that have worked well thus far, but have reached their limit. And then, as if by magic, the next bar appears, the one coming at us that will take us to the other side. 

However, even that difficult act is not all there is to it. For, if we dare fly off our old perch, at some point we must let go and leave the safety and security of the known behind. Once we release the bar, for a split second (which feels like an eternity), we are literally suspended in air. We are holding onto absolutely nothing. Our hands are stretched out. Our partner was supposed to time the act to make sure the new bar was exactly where it was supposed to be when it was supposed to be there. But, we still must let go, exist momentarily in thin air and hope that the new bar is coming, ready for us to nab it – our ticket to safety and progress on the other side.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad when I do have that safety net. For unlike the trained professionals with their dazzling smiles and outfits to match, I fall. Often. Either that, or I never leave the stand to begin with. I’m atop the pole waiting for my popcorn and the clown show to start – much more my speed.

Yet, the other side looks appealing. And believe it or not, horses running in circles can become sleepily boring.

So, maybe, it’s my turn. I want those lights on me too. Cause I’m still in the circus. Yes, it’s my chance to jump from the known, to let go of my worn trusty bar, to risk the empty space in between and hope mightily that I can get to the other side. New and improved. A better version of me.

And if I fall, there is the net to catch my ego. Phew. I can then pull her from the webbing. Wipe her off. And climb to my stand once again. For, there’s a new bar to catch and damn it, last I checked, I am still a part of life’s circus.

One thought on “Flying High

  1. Do you know Sam Keen’s book: ‘Learning to Fly: Reflections on Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go’? It is an absolute gem and uses the flying trapeeze as a metaphor and vehicle for the learning that brings growth. Keen actually learnt the trapeeze so the book interweaves his physical experience with the inner learning. It is wonderful!

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