The scenery doesn’t matter. The temperature becomes obsolete. Every noise fades into the distance and the only sound I hear is the quickened thump of my heart and the rushing of the wind. The air envelopes me and thoughts become a thing of the past. There is no time to think if you are becoming one with the sky.
I am strong, I am focused, I am airborne.
I am free.
This is not a place for thinking. Worry and doubt and fear cannot find room to foster in a heart that is this open. The mortgage, the horrible boss, the illness, the pain — all become secondary to the primal need for freedom and the fleeting chance to be separate from absolutely everything else.
Many do not realize just how much gravity holds them down. The need to find even fleeting relief from its oppressive hand is deep seated in human nature and unconsciously sought by all.
Oddly enough, the first time I experienced a real reprieve from gravity was in New York City in a large white tent. After a childhood as a competitive gymnast, a college education in theatre, and a year traveling as a tour director, I was desperately searching for a way to merge all of my widespread passions.
I walked into the stark and badly carpeted space with feigned confidence and stared up 30 feet to the small platform where I would soon be. As I watched, a ridiculously fit man jumped off that platform, swung out into the abyss and dismounted into the net with a complex assortment of flips and twists. A smiling instructor with a fantastic afro strapped a belt on me, rambled off a slew of directions and hooked me into a safety line to climb on up to my, as yet, unbeknownst future.
I remember very little detail from the next two hours of my first flying trapeze class.
My gymnastics background gave me an edge and I easily grasped the tricks they asked me to perform. I know that even though joy was radiating out of every inch of my being, my entire body was shaking after every turn. What has implanted itself firmly in my memory is the intense feeling of freedom and the inability to think of anything else for those few moments when you are flying through the air. At that time in my life, I was freshly heart broken, dealing with the death of a close friend, and working three jobs to pay my outrageously huge college loans and make ends meet in the big bad city. I was irritable, confused, overwhelmed and completely exhausted. In the air, none of this was able to touch me, and I soared freely, high above all my petty troubles.
I have since gone on to make flying trapeze, and other circus arts, my career. I have travelled all over the world, flying at trapeze rigs in faraway lands, recreating that 20 seconds of airborne peace. Every trapeze has its own flavor, its own signature feeling, its own vibe, but they all provide the same freedom. In Pennsylvania, the freedom is delivered along with a healthy dose of fresh backwoods air and eagles soaring right along with you. In Seattle, the feeling comes surrounded by aged wood, rusting mechanical trolleys, and an audience on a balcony at the same level as your flight. In the Caribbean, it’s a sea of blue sky and bluer ocean with palm fronds blowing gently in the fragrant breeze.
My mission in life is to grasp this opportunity at every possible moment, in every possible location. Flying through the air has become my sanity, my peace, my steady. It is not for the faint of heart. Independence is not something given to the meek. You must be willing to take the leap, to let go of the past, to experience something out of your comfort zone. You must be willing to lead an interesting life and to shed the conventional chains of normal society. You must be willing to be free.
About the Author: Caitlyn Larsson is a wandering circus vagrant, unable to stay in one place for extended periods of time, and always on the lookout for the next amazing experience. She teaches flying trapeze and other circus arts to pay the bills, writes technical articles to fend off the college loans from her days at NYU, and performs as often as possible to feed her creative soul. Here is a link to her incredibly intermittent blog, Circus Vagrant. http://circusvagrant.wordpress.com