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Walking on the Wire

Do you remember when you first were learning how to ride a bike? 

This trademark experience of our early childhood is likely something we don’t even think about anymore. When it was time to take off the training wheels. You likely wobbled and fell several times as I did.The slow progress and scraped knees likely frustrated you, but you persevered. Eventually found your balance, kept your bike upright and you were in motion. This is something we likely never even think about anymore, but if we never achieved the proper balance on the two wheels, we never would’ve been moving at all. 

Into our adult lives we maintain a healthy balance in many other aspects. We have obligations in our personal, and professional lives, and we must maintain a healthy balance of both, careful not to neglect one too much in favour of another. We all love sharing a couple drinks with our friends, or relaxing with some form of entertainment media. However, we have work to do as well, so make sure that gets done first.

Life is a perfect synchronicity of forces from all directions, and achieving harmony with these forces is what keeps us progressing through it. 

I compare this to the art of Funambulism, better known as tightrope walking. Whether this is a performing artist in a circus, or a stuntman attempting a highwire stunt at a nauseating height. The precision and skill required for this practice is nothing short of astonishing. Tightrope walkers must keep their weight in balance with a literal thread being the only thing keeping them from possible death. Each step is calculated and executed perfectly, ensuring a safe passage from one end of the rope to the other. 

While failing to keep a balance in our lives might not have the same dire consequences as falling several hundred feet, it’s impact is profound nonetheless. The repercussions of what happens when one or more aspects of our life is uneven in regards to others. It’s a very natural feeling. Because we’re so naturally inclined to favour stability, this is something most of us feel automatically. We feel when things are out of whack in our own spheres, and from that we can adjust, as the Funambulist uses a long pole to stabilise his footing on the thin wire holding him up.

Charles Blondin, tightrope walking across The Niagara Gorge, June 1859

We need only look to our own natural world to see the balancing act in full effect. Call it the scales of Gaia herself, putting stones on either tray to balance the forces around us. Even when damaged and thrown out of equilibrium nature always finds a way to measure itself out, as a carpenter centres the bubble on his spirit level. This is certainly not always peaceful or gentle. 

The Rainbow Serpent is a deity appearing within the mythology of many Aboriginal Australian peoples. A mythological being embodying nature, rain, and storms. Many depictions of the Serpent show it as being a benevolent entity, bringing quenching rains to humanity during times of necessity. On the flip side, it could be seen as a powerful destructive force when angered. The serpent was said to be capable of conjuring powerful storms, and torrential downpours. Some myths even suggest it would devour human beings as a punishment for upsetting the natural order. A very powerful metaphor for what happens when man oversteps his boundary on the natural world. I see the Rainbow Serpent legends as a perfect example of nature righting wrongs, whether caused by man or otherwise. 

I’m looking out my window as I write this, and see the immense amount of snow on the ground. Snow drifts, many taller than me standing as a monument to how unrelenting this winter has been. But then I recall last year, where the province was under severe drought conditions. Many towns and small cities were declaring water shortages. Wetlands and sloughs I’ve always seen waterfowl swimming in throughout the years were completely dried up and cracking. Sure, there may be heaps of snow outside, but the melting of such will return much needed moisture to the soil. It will help towards restoring the natural equilibrium within the local ecosystem. 

Cave painting depicting the Rainbow Serpent, in Northern Australia

Throughout all cultures symbols and practices resonate this age old concept that ties all things together. The symbol associated with Libra is depicted as the beam balance scale. It was Described by the Roman Poet Manilius as “The sign in which the seasons are balanced, and the hours of night and day match each other”. Other symbols such as the Yin and Yang, showing the intertwining of opposing forces as being integral to the whole. The two halves of the Dagaz rune, a show of the opposing forces of dark and light being intertwined with each other.

Keeping all aspects of our lives in symmetrical unison is what makes us well rounded people. We can imagine ourselves as Charles Blondin, the man who walked on a rope across the Niagara Gorge. Our lives as the rope itself. Stabilising ourselves as we take each step. My favourite little detail of the Niagara Gorge tightrope feat, is that halfway through the walk, Mr. Blondin sat down on the rope, and signalled to a tourist boat below. He cast down a rope, and hauled up a bottle of wine, which he then proceeded to drink from. After imbibing, he stood back up on the line and continued across to the end. 

While reckless, and no doubt a display of showmanship, it serves as a good reminder to take care when moving forward, but don’t forget to have yourself a little fun along the way. It is a balancing act after all. 

1 thought on “Walking on the Wire

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