ring master

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages…step right up, step right up and prepare to be amazed! Today, you will bear witness to incredible feats of daring and courage, death-defying acts of bravery; you will laugh, you may even cry, but you will most certainly be entertained

by the most SPECTAULUAR SHOW ON EARTH!”

There was a drum roll and a hush fell over the crowd of onlookers. A single spotlight flashed on with blinding brightness. This was my cue; I steadied myself on the edge of the platform high above the audience and tightened my grip on the fly pole. As an aerialist in this menagerie of madness, I entertain the masses with my grace and poise when I reach out in faith swinging from one trapeze bar to the next. Taking a deep breath, I smiled widely while silently praying to my Catcher; today we were working without a net. Let the show begin, I thought as my feet left the security of the mattress platform and hit the bedroom floor – its 5 am and my day has begun.

These days my life feels like a 3-ringed circus with all the acts performed by a troupe of one. I am the Ringmaster responsible for creating enthusiasm, anticipation, intrigue and maintaining the program’s ever-changing flow of acts. As the most visible performer, it is my job to set the tone for the entire show, diverting attention, building excitement and yes even stalling when someone can’t get their act together.

On a daily basis, I walk a tightrope high above the center ring, struggling to maintain a healthy balance mentally, physically and emotionally. I’ve learned through many years of practice that the best way to achieve balance is with counter balance. It is important for me to assess my environment checking for turbulent winds that may whip up and I continually make the necessary adjustments to create stability. Moving in moderation, step by step, I am able to traverse any chasm despite its length, with confidence.

Of course, no circus is complete without a clown to make us laugh and divert our attention. I enjoy smiling and laughing which triggers the release of tension relieving endorphins. With so many things beyond my control, painting a smile on my face and handling the drama de jour with levity keeps me from taking the situation or myself too seriously.

I am a contortionist, a job that requires the flexibility of Gumby. Whether I am squeezing into a small space to retrieve one of the cat’s chenille balls, or bending over backward to lend a hand, I need to remember that being adaptable is a benefit when I find myself in a tight spot!

I have perfected the act of juggling. Be it doctor’s appointments or dinner plates; even while riding a cat bareback as she gallops around the ring, I can keep my calendar of events moving smoothly without dropping even one and often adding more into the fray on a single day than there are clowns in a smart car. With careful synchronization, I am able to maintain constant motion. My secret? Keep all the balls in sight, without focusing on just one!

As a tumbler I execute difficult maneuvers such as walking. I’ve tumbled my way down the stairs, up the stairs, out of a chair and periodically crumble to the floor while simply standing, with all the grace of a Push Puppet which is equal parts embarrassing and humorous. (see clown)

I think my favorite job now*, is animal trainer. Although there are down sides, like shoveling poo, it has certainly taught me the most valuable of life’s lessons. Among these are: get a routine, deal with one animal act at a time, and whether asking the tutu touting circus bear to jump through a fiery hoop while renegotiate the cable bill, or dealing with the Organ Grinder’s (banana stealing) monkeys, positive reinforcement produces better results than cracking the whip! (*the knife-throwing act was, unfortunately, discontinued)

By far, the most dangerous act I perform on a daily basis is that of lion tamer. This ferocious beast is aggressive by nature and very unpredictable. His name is Pain and he can live up to it! His roar can be heard for miles, echoing far beyond the arena, as he restlessly paces in his cage. Although he would like to devour me, I would much prefer to sit on the chair resting outside of his cage, the one used to confuse him when I enter, and have a casual chat about the disadvantages of being mauled. Pain has always had my attention, frequently disrupting me from my more pleasurable duties as circus ingénue, and I’ve spent many sleepless nights seeking ways to make this so-called King of the Jungle a cute widdle pussycat. In attempts to establish dominance, and having exhausted all other resources, I have resorted to using a type of shock collar. No need to worry, Pain is not being harmed; his attention is simply being redirected by the enjoyable, light pulsations a Dorsal Column Stimulator provides. This technology, which is quite effective, has not produced the cuddly kitty I had hoped, but allows us to distinguish our personal space and live with mutual respect while performing amazing feats of daring that continue to thrill onlookers.

Throughout the years I have been with the Circus de Jour, I have found that no matter which act I’m called on to perform; with patient perseverance, by keeping my attention focused in the right direction and my eyes on my Catcher, I am able to execute any of them flawlessly! Oh, do you hear that friends? The Organ Grinder is starting to play, step right up! Grab your tickets and take a seat under the big top, the next show is about to begin!