My Circus Life is a weekly livestream show in which I share a lesson I learned in my circus activities — mostly trampoline and flying trapeze — and how they relate to your life and business. This article goes with Episode 94: Embracing the Storms of Life.
The Weather as Mindfulness Teacher
When we talk about what it means to accept our current experience, weather is often given as the prime example. We understand that we cannot change the weather. We can wish for it to be different, we can recite positive affirmations about it, an we can try to manifest better weather, but none of this impacts the result.
This morning, as I walked in the rain to Trapeze School New York’s Pier 40 location for my weekly trampoline class, my thought was:
I’m either optimistic or delusional. Probably a bit of both.
The rain was light, and there was always a chance that it could stop. On the other hand, the Dark Sky app showed that it would intensify. By the time I got up to the roof of Pier 40, the rain was coming down hard.
The early morning trapeze class was finally giving up and moving into the office to take cover.
It looked like we were out of luck.
As the rain let up a little bit, my coach said that he was open to having us run class, keeping our bouncing within safe limits: staying low, no crazy tricks, no flips out of lines. He didn’t pressure me to join. It was up to me.
There were several reasons not to do this. The trampoline was wet, and could be slippery. There was a greater risk of injury. It was chilly and uncomfortable in the rain.
An Inner Debate
Part of me wanted to bounce.
Part of me did not want to bounce.
My friend asked me: which part.
The part of me that wanted to bounce was the part of me that loves adventure and loves getting messy. I always want to bounce. My body needed it. I look forward to this every week.
The part of me that didn’t want to bounce was the part that was afraid of risking injury from a stupid slip on a wet trampoline, or getting sick from being out in the rain.
Also — and I’m just keeping it real — there was a part of me that didn’t want to get my hair wet. I will go to great lengths to preserve a good blowout.
It didn’t seem worth it to get wet if we would be cut short by lightening, or if the rain intensified to the point that the risk of injury increased.
You Can’t Be Half-In
The catch–22 of this situation was that only I could determine how safe I felt bouncing in the rain. And I would only know if it felt safe for me by getting on the trampoline. But trying would force me out into the rain.
I couldn’t try without getting wet. I couldn’t do this half-way.
There are many things we can do only by fully committing. This was one of them.
The Mind Debates; The Body Knows
Inside the office, I chatted and joked with my friends who are on the staff. They affirmed my rational decision to stay inside. We listed all the people we know who have gotten injured on a dry trampoline doing basic skills.
The risk of injury is real.
I rationalized that perhaps the rain was a sign for me to give my body some extra rest and then devote the day to catching up on work. That was certainly a viable meaning to give to the rainy morning.
But the body knows truth. One of the benefits of learning how to feel your emotions is that you also get access to the truth that lives in your body.
As I sat there, I felt the truth in my body: fear of injury was not the thing holding me back today.
I was more concerned about getting my hair wet.
Yikes. How silly, right? No judgments. Just noticing. It is what it is.
Once I noticed the truth, I knew the message the rain had for me.
Mother Nature was offering me the opportunity to dive into my discomfort. This was my chance to let go of concerns about appearance and embrace the moment, rather than resisting it behind the pretense of a fear.
If my real reason for not bouncing was that I didn’t want to get my hair wet, then that was exactly what I had to do.
Life is About Getting Wet
I headed outside to join the others and got up on the trampoline.
My first set was in a light drizzle. But then the rain picked up. In no time, my leggings and shirt were sticking to my body. My hair was wet.
I was soaked from head to toe, and it was awesome.
As the rain hit my mouth and I tasted freedom. This was the freedom that comes from letting go of the things that we put in our way. It was the freedom that comes from listening to our inner truth. The freedom of embracing the present moment.
Toward the end of my class time the rain stopped. Shortly after we finished, the clouds broke and the blue sky appeared.
Within the hour, the sun had returned. It always does.
I often feel this sense — from others and in myself — that “when this storm is over, I’ll get back to life.” That waiting is the resistance to the present moment.
Life is full of storms. Rainstorms. Snowstorms. Shitstorms. Life storms.
To embrace the moment is to dive into the storms. It means we get messy. We get wet.
To think I almost missed out on the fun because I didn’t want to get my clothes or hair wet — what a waste that would have been. I would have missed all the fun. I would have denied myself freedom.
Some days, the lessons write themselves. Today’s lesson was clear:
Life is not meant to be observed from under the shelter of the umbrella or awning, while we wait for the storm to pass. It is meant to be lived and embraced with full commitment to getting wet.
Life is about learning to bounce in the rain.