Friday, May 25, 2012

only better

My nephew trains with a circus group. This is a picture of him from their show last week. First-person reports are that this particular action, low-casting, feels "like flying, only better." What I love about this picture is that it captures him in flow, that elusive state we enter and exit in physical performance, that never comes when we seek it. Look at him, totally focussed, totally intense, but absolutely chill, absolutely inside his action.

What to say about the last two months: the real miracle of life is that we can periodically live in the comforting illusion that we are not spinning wildly through space, planets and fire rushing past our heads. Lately it's like some filter has failed and there's more tragedy and glory about than is easy to bear, lives shaken to the core by joy and sorrow at every turn. A new baby. A senseless, random murder. An important debut. A tragic accident. Packing up apartments and moving to other countries, other continents, for money, for love, for another chance. Graduations. First words. Goodbyes.

These things are going on everywhere, all the time, but when there's a cluster near your own head, in your own extended family, it feels significant. That's an illusion. But look, there are your friends, very real, all around you in mid-air.

My sister pointed out the other people in this picture: the instructor with hands extended; another student swinging in the opposite direction, about to fly; another instructor waiting to receive that student; the spotter below, ready to help if necessary.

There are so many ways to learn how to live. Sometimes at the piano and sometimes on my bike, I can escape the dream of solid ground. What a miracle can sometimes be possible, with assistance and protection: within the confines of our human body to discover what we really are, to fly, in spite of fear to reach out with confidence and faith.