I am always amazed at the folks who do walk on tightropes. The kind of balance, mental acuity, discipline, self-control, grit, and determination that it takes to accomplish that task is a trait that you and I can only dream of. There is an Australian, Kane Peterson, who, as part of the stunt, laid down for a bit on the tightrope, got up and walked the rest of the three hundred meters. I could not even stand watching videos of Nik Wallenda walking across the Niagara Falls. A part of me thinks that as amazing as the feat was, you've got to be crazy - in a good way - to dream and walk the tightrope across any distance.
Many of us are still going through a rollercoaster of emotions during this pandemic. We do not know what to do anymore. Our lives seem a little stuck. Being confined to our own homes has been torturous. It is as if we are walking on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls - we can see the beginning, we can see the rope, and we can see the end from a distance, but we’re not sure how, and if, we will get there in peace. Many are the words of encouragement we have heard. Many are the words of comfort that have been shared with us, and that we have offered to others. Many are the words of support that have been offered to us, and we have, in turn, offered to others. All of these are meant to help mitigate the emotional, mental, and psychological effects of the pandemic on us, and meant to create a semblance of normalcy. A lot of us are not doing well; we are simply living…but we want to thrive.
One of the disturbing fallouts has been the rise in domestic violence. Couples are overreacting over things that don’t even matter; couples are using partners as an outlet, a punching bag for their frustration. Couples cannot help manage their own disappointment and anger over the financial toll of this pandemic. But we want to thrive, and we want our love ones to thrive, as well.
As dire as our situation may be, not as many words of support and comfort would help if we are not prepared and willing to take the necessary step that would bring the needed peace in our lives and in our homes. Yes, the stress level is high. Anxiety is through the roof. Impatience is rampant. The uncertainty of walking on a tightrope is killing, as if we are like a keg that's ready to explode.
But I do not want you to discount your role in making things work. I do not want you to downplay your role in making things better for you, and for your family. As meaningful an exhortation as you may hear and read, YOU are the one who must make that decision about whether you want to employ what you have heard or read. I am sure you have heard it said before that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force it to drink. That’s why the onus is on you to create that peace of a home.
I want to share with you a story about a highly-skilled gymnast in Canada who was an expert at walking the tightrope. Many times, he had walked a thin rope between the peaks of two high mountains. Each performance attracted huge crowds who marveled at his poise, balance, skill, and prowess.
One day, he decided to jazz up his act by adding a new element of danger. He would do the tightrope walk while pushing a wheelbarrow. The news went out, and everyone looked forward to his next event with great excitement and anticipation.
As the big day drew nearer, the gymnast started to get nervous. He realized that pushing a wheelbarrow would be more dangerous, as he would not be able to stretch out his hands to maintain balance as the rope bounced about. What if he could not do it? What if he fell a hundred feet to his death?
The night before the big event, he went over to his best friend's house and confessed his fears. His friend reminded him of all the other times the gymnast had overcome great odds to achieve great things. His friend patted him on the back and said, "I believe in you, and I'm with you every step of the way."
The gymnast started to feel confident again. "Thank you," he said to his friend. "So, since you have so much faith in me, would you like to sit in the wheelbarrow when I do the crossover tomorrow?"
The friend held the gymnast by the shoulders, looked him in the eye and said, "Not a flaming chance in hell. Are you crazy?"
There is no doubt that encouragement and praise as morale boosters are great. They fuel our courage and spur our imagination. It is always worth having those around us who believe in us. They create in us more than the motivation and the drive to make it; they also reduce our fears and calm our nerves. However, in spite of the boatload of faith people have in you, encouragement and motivation are not substitutes for effort - they cannot do the job for YOU.
I learned, many years ago, that heaven helps those who help themselves. And, so in as much as we rely on the counsel, encouragement, and direction of well-meaning people, the real work depends on us. And the moment we embrace the reality that the hard work of walking the tightrope depends on YOU, the more we can embrace the idea that the other is not crazy, and neither are we.