>Man on a Wire or Balance


The man on the wire takes yet another step and with it, a shallow tentative breath. He holds the pole out in front of him gripping it tightly, his knuckles are white and the sweat between his palm and the rod makes his hold just a little less sure. A breath of wind sways the thick steel cable beneath the soles of his ready feet. In this moment he swallows, lowers his eyelids, and reminds himself once again how to place one foot in front of the other. He practiced for this so many times in his back yard between the two oak trees. This is different, very different. The cold morning fog hugs his skin and plasters his thin shirt to his tense muscles. He remembers. The sun of a summer day one year ago melts away the mist of the morning and fills his eyelids with the flickering picture of memory. Birds sing in the treetops and bees drone over the flowers on the ground. The ground is only three feet below the suspension line. A drop that couldn’t hurt an infant. He totters, falls, gets back on the wire. Repeat. Over and over, repeat. Practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, he tries and tries again. If he were to make one such mistake now – to fall off of his wire – its best not to think of things like that. Again the line quivers and his eyes open, not quickly, every movement matters. His eyes take in the scene before him without his head needing to convey their motion. In front of him the narrow pathway stretches into infinity through the clouds before him. He knows that behind him are over fifteen feet of cable, another thirty stretch forward. There is no turning back now. Another careful step brings him that much closer to his incredible goal. One at a time. One at a time. Slow. Steady. He does not dare look below him. To look down could mean the end of everything. He cannot even think about averting his eyes to see what lies beneath his feet. His mind is steeled to the danger contained in the distance between himself and the hard unrelenting ground. Out of sight out of mind. The farther he is from the crust of the revolving earth, the nearer he encroaches on the imminent danger of his circus act. None of these thoughts cross his focused mind. The wail of sirens somewhere in the ocean of water-heavy air and the bite of what feels like shards of ice are not lost on his sharpened senses, but are quickly packaged and stored away, cleared from the mind’s palate which must be relied upon to keep his body steady on this line which is better suited to carry a cable car than a human being. He feels the weight of his body tensing the wire and imagines each of his own muscles doing the same. His chest rises and falls slowly, and his arms ache with the effort of keeping the pole steady before him. If he were to waver now – if he took one step an inch too far or too short. He steadies himself and draws his foot forward again. Again. He feels firm metal beneath his feet. The building. He drops the pole and turns around. From there he gazes out at the city and then he looks down. Down, down, down. The world sprawls at his feet. One thousand three hundred and sixty eight feet below.

More on Balance later…


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