Joining the Circus


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Aside from a few quotes or
the occasional blog swap, my blogs are usually my own words of wisdom, humor,
or whatever else my mind spews out. But this story read at the end of my yoga
class yesterday was too good not to share.

Turning the Fear of
Transformation into the Transformation of Fear

by Danaan Parry (*Note: Many sites listed this 
parable as author unknown, so I’m not sure if this is the real author or
just someone who wrote it down, but I wanted to give credit in case.)

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings.
I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in
my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life
to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate
of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. 

I know most of the right questions and even some of the

But every once in a while as I’m merrily (or even
not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and
what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s empty and I
know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on
it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart
of hearts I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present,
well-known bar and move to the new one. 

Each time it happens to me I hope (no, I pray) that I won’t
have to let go of my old bar completely before I grab the new one. But in my
knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and,
for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the
new bar.

Each time, I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that
in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing I have always made it.
I am each time afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks
in the bottomless chasm between bars. I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the
essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net,
no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to
that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. So, for an eternity that
can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of
“the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”

It’s called “transition.” I have come to believe
that this transition is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real
change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old
buttons get punched.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is
looked upon as a “no-thing,” a noplace between places. Sure, the old
trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming towards me, I hope that’s real,
too. But the void in between? Is that just a scary, confusing, disorienting
nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible?

NO! What a wasted opportunity that would be. I have a
sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars
are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real
growth, occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the
transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be
honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being
out of control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are
still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our

So, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with
making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang
out” in the transition between trapezes. Transforming our need to grab
that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where
change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the
true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to

As I sat on my sweat
soaked yoga mat after nearly succumbing to the heat and humidity, as well as to
the humility of being the only newbie unable to stand on her head, I hadn’t
expected to be moved and motivated. But I was. Because whether it be attempting
a headstand for the first time in front of forty strangers, or jumping into a
new career, or traveling to someplace strange and unknown, we all occasionally
need some help letting go of that comfortable bar. I’m not sure I’ll ever be
the type of person who loves the void, the transition zone, but I do love
reaching the next bar and realizing I had the courage and the strength to take
the risk.

So next class, I’m kicking
my feet (or at least one foot) in the air, turning my world momentarily upside
down. If it means I fall and land on my rump, well, at least I’ll give the
experienced pretzel-lovin’ yogis something to laugh at.


1 Comment

Filed under The Rest of Life

One response to “Joining the Circus

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