Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going,
don't take anything too seriously,
it'll all work out in the end.
I've always had a sort of love affair with the circus, and lately I've been a lot more focused on it as I've been planning a circus-themed baby shower. (So focused on it, in fact, that I even watched Charlie Chaplin's The Circus last night -- a silent film, which is usually so not my thing.) Despite the misgivings I have about the circus (the treatment of animals, the creepy clowns, etc.), there's something about being part of a circus that seems magical -- traveling around the country preforming and entertaining people, doing things that seem impossible to others and knowing how they all work. There's something magical about being the force behind the magic.
When I think of the circus, I think of sawdust and swinging trapeze artists. I think of twinkling lights and towering big tops. I think of excitement and experience, the dusty trails of knowledge kicked up by all the traveling performers. I'm sure there's much more to it than what I envision (... all the most magical things are always so much simpler when you're on the outside), but to me the circus seems like a wondrous place.
Beyond the wonder and magic of the circus, there is a lot we can learn from what happens under the big top. The circus, in many ways, is a metaphor for life -- it's crazy, unexpected, filled with a wild range of emotions. Under the big top, you can go from laughing your head off to holding your breath in fear in just a matter of moments. As in life, the circus is filled with some odd characters, many of which have a great deal of knowledge to share if only we look a little closer. Let's pull back the curtain on the big top and see what life lessons we can find amid the sawdust and the sparkles...
Be the ringmaster. It's your life.
If life is a circus, then you should certainly be the star in your own ring. The ringmaster controls the show. The ringmaster is the most visible performer. The ringmaster is in charge. You can't control everything in life, but there are many things you have the power to direct. Don't let someone else be the ringmaster in your life. Take the reins (or the whip, in this case!) and remind yourself that you have the power to be in charge of this crazy circus we call life.
You're on a tightrope. Keep your balance.
Just like the walk across the wire is for a tightrope walker, our lives will be most successful if we find balance. Lean too far in one direction and you'll find yourself toppling over. Balance is not always easy to master when juggling relationships and jobs and passions, but it's essential for living a positive and present life. Imagine yourself on a tightrope and ask yourself, "Am I leaning too far in one direction?" Don't let one area of your life -- no matter how important it might seem -- distract you from achieving balance.
Toss your hat in the ring. Get involved.
Like a circus coming to town, our lives are brief but wonderful. Don't waste your life sitting on the sidelines. Get involved with activities, hobbies, friends, jobs. Say "yes" more than you say "no." Do the things that scare you. Push your boundaries. Take the challenge of living life to the fullest. Life is a circus that's magical to watch, but even more wonderful to participate in. Don't waste your life being a spectator. Throw down your inhibitions and throw your hat into the ring.
Set up a sturdy net. You will need back-up.
No matter how balanced you try to be, you'll make mistakes. You'll slip and fall. Nothing could be worse than a fall without a net so make sure you have a strong network of people to help you get back up on your feet. You don't need a lot of people -- a few will do the trick -- but you do need people who will catch you when you fall, who will dust you off, and who will help you get back up on your feet. You won't often need your safety net, but you'll be thankful you have it when you start to lose your balance.
Clown around. Life's too short to be serious.
Even if you're a bit wary of clowns (there's just something not right about a painted-on smile...), it's hard not to appreciate their ability to make life a comedy. Life is much too short to spend your time being serious. Take a lesson from the circus clowns and make a joke, share a laugh, do something so silly and outrageous that you make yourself crack up. Seriousness has it's time and place, but it's the silliness you'll remember most. So clown around. Laugh.
Life is very much like the world under the big top -- filled with the unexpected, the exciting, and the terrifying. It's a lot to take in, but if you look closely, beyond the curtain, beneath the glitter, you'll see the wisdom that lies behind the wonder and the whimsy...
If you love the circus like I do, here are some sites, songs, and sources you might want to check out:
Circus-Themed Music Videos (includes my fav, Britney Spears' "Circus")
The Night Circus (amazing novel with a new twist on the circus)
Ringling Museum of Art (worth a trip to Sarasota, FL!)
Life is a Circus (my Pinterest board)
Charlie Chaplin's The Circus (part 1 of 8, but you can find all 8 on YouTube)
Circus (a PBS documentary you can watch online)