The things we think will keep us safe are often the things that cause us harm. The net is there. But it doesn’t guarantee your safety.
I Am Obsessed With Flying
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with the idea of flying.
Like Lois Lane, riding on Superman’s back as they glided over New York in the first Superman movie. Or like Superman himself, flying on my own, with my arms as wings.
Like the Wicked Witch of the West, flying on her broomstick.
Defying gravity flying.
My Love of the Flying Trapeze
In 2003 I discovered flying trapeze, and it was love at first flight. I have trained in flying trapeze twice a week for most years since then.
I’ve progressed to a level where I can do certain skills and tricks without the safety harness and safety lines (in trapeze parlance this is called “flying out of lines”).
Flying trapeze is a niche sport. When the topic comes up in conversation, people are often curious, especially about flying out of lines. The sense I get from others is that it sounds cool, and also dangerous. (It is both.)
Invariably, the question people ask is,
But there’s a net, right?
Yes, there’s a net.
Let’s talk about the net.
Structures That Protect Us Can Also Harm Us
People tend to ask about the net in a tone that reveals their assumption that the net will keep me safe.
The net on a flying trapeze rig provides a measure of safety, but it is not called a “safety net.”
In fact, the net is often where the biggest risk of injury lies.
Nobody gets injured in the air. The risk of injury is in the landing in the net.
The net on most trapeze rigs is not a soft cradle to cushion your fall. Instead, it is like a giant trampoline. The laws of physics apply.
Drop something from a distance onto a tight, springy surface and it bounces back up. On the flying trapeze, the net is the tight, springy surface and you are the object.
Landing Safely is a Skill
Landing safely in the net is its own skill. If you don’t fall to the net properly, you risk significant injury.
The net provides safety only to those who know how to work with it. That knowledge is embodied through training and practice.
This is the reason I originally took up trampoline. In fact, at Trapeze School New York, where I train, we must meet certain trampoline requirements to take skills out of lines on the trapeze.
If you don’t know how to land in the net properly the first time, or how to handle the rebound you get when the net bounces you back up into the air, the net will bounce you around until you’re bruised and battered.
When you know how to land properly in the net and control your body in the air, you can absorb the bounce and control the rebound.
Learn how to do this and you can defy gravity. You can transcend laws of space and time.
The Safety Net in Life
We often look for the safety net before we take a big leap in life. We want to feel the comfort of knowing that something will catch us when we fall.
Leap, and the net will appear. – Zen saying
Here is the secret: the net is already there.
The safety net in life is within you: self-trust, self-confidence, agility, awareness, and core strength — the inner strength of your spirit — give you the reflexes and resilience you need to control your landing and absorb the bounce in any endeavor.
These are the tools you need to fly high.
Which elements are you missing in your inner safety net? What attributes do you need to cultivate more?
Please share in the comments.