Before I joined the circus, I was always afraid of the ocean. These two facts are unrelated: I did not take to the air because the other elements frightened me. I was simply afraid of the large waves, the unpredictable patterns. Years ago, when I was home between semesters at school, I went to the beach with my family and another family. The other family included a young girl of nine or ten, and she wanted to swim in the ocean. I went with, staying in the shallows but keeping an eye on her. I saw a huge wave approaching, and realized I had to save her. For a few seconds I ran through the water, slowed by its weight. As I got closer, I saw that the wave was not just big…. it was huge! I turned around, abandoning the girl I was meant to be watching, and began slogging back towards shore. Since I had turned my back on the wave, it slammed into me and drove me face first into the ground, dragging me across several yards of rough, rocky sand, and sending my bikini top floating out to sea. The girl whom I had attempted to save jumped under the wave, and was fine. She would have been perfectly alright without me unsuccessful attempt at heroics. I would have been fine if I had jumped under the wave: But rather than dive underneath, I had turned and run, and gotten hurt in the process.
Since that time, I have become a professional and somewhat recognized acrobat. My friends and parents laughingly tell people that I have “run away with the circus,” although i had the full support of my family. People who watch the show are usually amazed by my “bravery,” as they call it, although hanging by one hand, high in the air, isn’t exactly brave when you know you won’t fall. But we don’t tell the audience that! The danger is what makes aerial acts exciting, and I face that danger everyday without a hitch.
Except for today. Today I faced my other fear, something that scares me even more than big waves: tornadoes! Well, not a tornado. A tornado warning. Which is a potential tornado, and that’s really just as bad. All day I was terrified, looking around for the tornado that may or may not hit our tent (which could so easily be blown down!) or our trailers (which could so easily be blown away!). I was shaking so hard I thought I might faint. For a moment, I regretted my decision to run away with the circus, to make myself part of a travelling show. I longed for office buildings, for sturdy houses, for basements.
Then the storm hit. Not a tornado yet, but a bad thunderstorm. We were told over announcement that we could go back to our trailers, or stay in the tent. I decided I should sprint to my trailer and hide under the bed before the tornado arrived. As I was sprinting out of the tent, another performer was sprinting into it, and we banged our heads. Hard. Really hard. Hard enough to require ice, and leave a giant swollen lump that was visible from the audience when I did the silks act. (the show must go on, and I performed both my numbers even though people teased me that from now on I would need to wear a mask like the Phantom of the Opera).
These two things are random fears that both bit me in the butt when I tried to get away from them. In both cases, had I remained calm, I would have been alright… but in uncanny parallels, both thing that terrified me, only hurt me because I was afraid.
I guess what life keeps trying to remind me, is that you don’t run away from the things that scare you…. you run away with the things that excite you.
Well, off to ice my head.