The circus recently came to my town. Every time I see it advertised, I think about going. Every time they come, I never attend. What keeps me away are the clowns. Honestly, they freak me out. I’m also allergic to peanuts and I hear there are peanuts everywhere at a circus. But mostly it’s because of the clowns. I remember attending as a child and what fascinated me the most (besides the bearded lady) were the trapeze artists.
There are two things I like about the trapeze artists. First, I like that they call themselves “artists.” I’m not sure why but that title amuses me. However, seeing that they are able to “create by virtue of skill a work of aesthetic value”, I won’t argue with their title. It does make me wonder if we should start referring to Spiderman as a web artist or Tarzan as a vine artist. I guess since their swinging is more utilitarian, the artist title eludes them. The main reason I like watching trapeze artists is because of the life lesson they teach me, every time they fly.
If you have ever watched a trapeze artist, you will notice that they begin on a platform, swing on a bar, leap to another moving bar and return to the opposite platform. In theory, it sounds easy. It even looks rather easy. I can tell by the massive net below that it is not. There is also a lot of pressure to the routine. Many components have to work together perfectly in order for it to be successful. You must begin your initial swing on time. While in motion, you only have one opportunity to grab the other moving bar – literally a moment. If the bar was not swung properly, you fall. If you do not grasp it firmly, you fall. If, in the leap, you slow the momentum – you will not make it to the next bar nor the next platform. And if you are trying to do this in the circus, tens of thousands of people are watching you. Pressure!
In order to go from one platform to the other, you must use the swinging bars. Unlike Tarzan’s vine, however, the swinging bars never touch. In fact, at the height of their respective swings, they are still several feet apart. The only way you can go from one bar to the other is by taking a “leap” of faith. In other words, you have to let go. And for that brief moment in time, you are in-between trapezes.
Many times in life – before you can truly go to the next level, you have to leave the one you are currently on. You cannot begin one job until you have left the other. You don’t get Prince Charming until you dump the Jester. You can’t get to second base until you have left first. You get the picture. Most times, we want to grasp the newer trapeze (or job, relationship, etc) before we let go of the older one. It’s not that we really like the older one, it’s just that it’s comforting to us. Who wouldn’t want to get to second base without leaving the familiarity of first? It’s safer that way.
Life doesn’t work like that. God didn’t design it that way. And you can cry, complain, kick, scream, whine or pout – until you leave the one trapeze you will never make it to the other.
Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino and Giacomo Columbus were three brothers who grew up in northwest Italy in the 14th century. Ever hear of them? Probably not. Know why? Because they stayed at home – comfortably perched on their familiar platform. If you paid attention in school, you know their brother, Christopher. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and the rest is history. Because he was willing to reach for a new trapeze, a new land was discovered. Before he could “discover” America, he had to leave the comfort of home and live for a season in-between the trapezes. In-between trapezes is scary. Ask anyone who has lived there. It frightens us because it is unfamiliar territory. But the unknown is only scary because it is unknown.
Several years ago I treated my step-Dad to a hot air balloon ride for his birthday. Neither of us had been on a balloon ride before and neither of us had a fear of heights. That is, until you are 3,000 feet above the ground in a glorified wicker basket. Up there, the winds are strong. Up there, the earth is far. Up there, even the tall buildings are small. And the only thing keeping us from crashing to the ground like a meteor was a wicker basket, rope, hot air and balloons. What crazy person invented this form of travel?? To be honest, it was exhilarating. The view (as you can see below) was breathtaking. Was there some risk? Of course there was! But as recent events have shown us, there is risk in everything we do – even going to the movie theatres. I just know this… you can’t see the sunrise over the horizon from your La-Z-boy recliner. You will never rise above your circumstances while you are laying in your bed of excuses.
So, which trapeze are you on? Why are you still there? Because you want to be or because you are too afraid to leave it? Is it time to swing on? It will be a scary leap. Yes, there will be a moment in time (it could be weeks or months) where you are “in limbo.” Yes, you will have that feeling of insecurity and fear. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t safe. Remember, there can be a tremendous difference between being unsafe and feeling unsafe. To understand that difference, go to your nearest amusement park and ride their scariest ride. For about 3 minutes of your life, you will feel unsafe. The truth is, you have never been so secure. Just because you feel like you will be ejected doesn’t mean you will be. There is a big difference between perceived fear and actual fear and too often our perceived fears keep us from living the life we want to live. Fear can be a paralyzing force in our lives. It can, if we let it, strangle our faith and bind our feet.
As George Addair once said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
So, what do you want? To meet that person? To travel to that country? To begin a new career?
Why are you letting fear stand in your way of grasping it? Life change is just a leap away. Life in-between the trapezes is calling your name. A new platform awaits. Go for it!
“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than the light and safer than the known!’ So, I went forth and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.” – M. Louise Haskins