Don’t look down

Last Friday night I watched daredevil Nik Wallenda walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. What can I say? Curiosity got the best of me. 

 I don’t know what I thought would happen, but the mere possibility that this man could fall and dangle over the rushing waters of the mighty Niagara Falls like a wiggling worm off a hook, well, it caught my attention.

Having said that, I have the attention span of a gnat and I fell asleep before Wallenda safely crossed to the other side; the good side; the Canadian side. I attribute my unexpected early bedtime to the fact that I spend most of my day staring forward at a computer screen, which makes me not only terribly dull, but also renders me useless past 9pm.

It could also have been the sleep aid that came in the form of a glass of wine (okay, two), my luxury item for that week. I rarely allow myself that sort of treat, but it had been one of those weeks.

You know what I mean by that, right? This circus of life requires one to be an acrobat. Some days, though, you bend over backwards and get told to stand up straight. You fly high and fall hard, with no net. You jump through hoops and nobody notices, or everyone notices, so you trip over the hoops. The elephant in the room is loose and it’s your fault.

None of that is actually true, though. Nobody has a clue you feel this way. It is just your perception, the voice in your head telling your instincts to be quiet, while your insecurities trying to keep the peace.  Wine does not cure that, at least not in my case.

Sleep doesn’t either, because that night, I had a dream that drudged up faces in my past, weaving in and out of a story line where I had to navigate around situations without getting pulled into the drama. That was no dream; it was a metaphor of my life on the tightrope created by me. I was losing my balance. I looked down instead of straight ahead. I forgot to put one foot ahead of the other and keep walking my path.

The next morning, I awoke in a puddle of my own drool, with a sense of urgency to know if Wallenda made it across Niagara Falls alive. Before I could pour my morning coffee or feed the dog, I headed to the television and searched every media channel I could find for the footage of Wallenda’s journey.

 I watched in amazement as the man successfully walked along a thin rope, one careful step at a time, holding on to his stabilizing bar. Despite strong winds and heavy water spray, he never faltered. High above the rushing waters of Niagara Falls, whose magnificence has equally terrified and mesmerized me since I first witnessed it as a child, his steady pace got him to the Canadian side.

All I could think was: wow, where do I get a stabilizing bar? That is the secret to keeping your balance in life, especially when life throws you off kilter. Hold on and stay grounded. Find your centre of gravity. Mind over matter; faith over doubt; courage over fear. Never look down. Put one foot ahead of the other and keep walking.

Thank God Wallenda had the good sense to walk right into Canada’s fine wine country. Cheers to that.


Kelly Waterhouse