Walking the High Wire
“The wire is a safe place for me to be. The street is not. Life is not. It's a rigorous and simple path. It's straight. You don't have meanders there like, you know, on the ground, in life.”
Philippe Petit, you may remember, is the French high-wire artist, who is best known for walking a wire stretched between the two World Trade Center Towers in 1974. It seemed insane to me at the time, and, honestly, it still does. But, for him, it's safe because it's predictable and there are no “meanders” that might hold unpleasant surprises. Most of us would like to have such a life; to be in control of every aspect so that we could go from point (a) to point (b) with no curving lines and no blind alleys.
Life down here on the street is not safe. It is not straight and simple. You can't train for a lot of what happens outside your tiny sphere of control—that is, beyond your human body. You just have to play the cards you're dealt, and some days they are great, and some days, not so much. We have all sorts of human ways of trying to gain the advantage in this game of life. We try to stack up as much money as possible, we put on a ton of make-up so no one really knows what we look like, we wash ourselves with germ killing soaps and chemicals, we don't step on cracks, we place all manner of alarms and security apparatuses in our homes, we hoard completely unnecessary things, some of us limit our interactions so as not to encounter anything, or anyone, beyond the doors of our safe space. When we have an unpleasant interaction with messy old life, we scrub our hands extra hard, and redouble our efforts.
The problem with these rigorous efforts to keep it straight-forward and controllable, is (1) it's impossible to do, and (2) we block out all the good stuff along with the bad—all the joy, all the serendipity, all the grandeur and glory and awesome deliciousness of life itself. We can live in a cell of our own making, or we can let go, and allow life to happen in all its terrible and delightful manifestations. Or, I suppose, we can learn how to walk on a high wire.
In the Spirit,