Back to the Circus

I told you a while ago that I dreamed of being an aerialist in the circus. (Although those of you who know me personally would be tragically tempted to peg me as a clown, the cute, curious, innocent one with the flower growing from her hat. Ainsi soit-il.) There are lots and lots of reasons why I want to fly, some way more intimate and personal than I am even willing to share with you (and let’s be honest, I share a lot with you.)

There is a theme in my Ideal Life Exercise in which I consider Body Positivity and Health. I will go much deeper into why the circus is so critical for me to pursue, at my age, in a week or so when I come back to that theme, but let’s just say that I want to stay mobile and limber in my mature years and I don’t want to wait until I become too immobile and rigid to get started.

Circus Freak

This week, after months of closures, my littlest scalawag’s circus school finally opened back up. For the first time, I was allowed to sit and watch their session.

I watched a little girl step up to a lyra for the first time (a lyra is that large ring suspended like a swing in the air, around which an acrobat does figures and is, simply, elegance incarnate.) My heart thudded to watch her as she awkwardly swung on it a few times to get the feel for it. I watched her swing one leg over it, and pull herself up.

As I have already mentioned, I am something of a synesthete, and so my body could feel what it imagined hers was experiencing. It was terrifying and glorious.

Just after she climbed down off the lyra, I watched my youngest attempt to tame the trapeze, with all his bullish, explosive energy. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: this child is my mini-me. Me, replete with the invasive freckles, entertainer’s personality and the deep, rich, dramatic thought life that rears its ugly head from time to time. But him, he has the prettiest brown eyes you’ll ever see.

My whole heart and body screamed, as he struck a pose with his head thrown back, his whole body arched, “That should be me!!!!”

When that scream eeked out of my mouth, in the form of “I just can’t stand this anymore,” I went directly to the director of the school and asked her, pointblank, “How I can I learn how to do this? And soon?”

She said that there weren’t anymore schools in our areas that taught adults (although I had thought there might be, the websites were sadly out-of-date.) But she said there are others in France.

And that gave me an idea. You know, all my talk of wanting to do things that make me feel alive? What if I put something on my calendar, something to look forward to, next year, when my moratorium on new commitments is over…a week-long circus seminar for beginners, somewhere far away from home, so that I could finally learn how to fly?

Stop living vicariously through my children. Start making a concrete plan to live my dream. Sure, I might hate it once I start. But anticipation is everything. For a year, I would have something on my calendar that I really wanted to do.

Our dreams give us meaning

After we left circus school, we went to the park. At this particular park, there is an outdoor gym for adults just next to the skatepark. There was no one else at the park when we first arrived. I was wearing a green skirt and a silk scarf in my hair. But you know what? No one was watching.

So I grabbed the rings and pulled myself up. Sure, I was trembling. Sure, I haven’t had strong arms since my babies were little and I had to carry them both at the same time. (Perhaps the strong arms are the only good memory I have of that phase!)

But holy cow! It felt amazing. It felt amazing to do something with my body that wasn’t running around after little boys, or doing groundwork from Cirque Plus (which I adore, don’t get me wrong.) My long-distance aerial cheerleader, Mollie had told me, “It’s once you start flying that you get strong. You don’t learn to fly by staying on the ground.” (I’m paraphrasing here…sorry Mollie!!)

On any normal day, I would have been sitting on a bench watching my boys do their Evil Kneivel stunts on la piste. But instead, I decided to fly.

Yesterday, I made a big deal about our choices, our little choices, and how they impact our ability to seize our dreams. No, change doesn’t happen overnight. One little change today isn’t going to bring you your Ideal Life. But a bunch of little changes? They are going to get you a heck of a lot closer than you were last week.

Remember this, in the immortal words of my aerialist superhero Mollie: “You don’t learn to fly by staying on the ground.”

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

One thought on “Back to the Circus

  1. That is supremely excellent!! Kudos for grabbing those bars!! You are MY hero, for stretching yourself, and making concrete step planning to meet your goals!! The only goal I have right now, is live until CC- Camden is 18. 13 more years, I know that’s a pathetic goal, but it’s all I got right now.


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