Flying on a Trapeze 90th Dream Comes True

Just a week shy of 101 Dreams Five Year Anniversary, I made my 90th dream come true – I flew on a trapeze.

When I was in the ninth grade, the circus came to my school as a fundraiser. The performers joined our gym classes and taught us juggling while a huge trapeze apparatus was erected in the front school yard. While in English class I could look out the window and watch the performers practice. Everyone was welcome to join the circus and the performances, but between incredible shyness and the lack of money I never took the chance. But boy did the dream live in my heart.

So for my birthday this year I decided it was time. I went to Oakland Trapeze Arts with a friend and signed up for a class. Only $45, so I thought I was taking an introduction, but when the time came for the class to begin three of my classmates wrapped their hands and began to climb the ladder without instruction. In moments they were swinging back and forth without a harness and I was feeling rather out of place.

Then the instructor came up to my friend and I and explained that it was an open class for all levels. Not intimidating at all! She had me step up to a bar with a mat under it, pull my knees up to my chest and over the bar, let go of my hands and swing, then come back up and release. With that done, she placed the harness around my waist and told me to climb the ladder. All I had to do was follow the teacher’s cues and do exactly what she just told me. What? I’m going to jump off, swing once, put my knees up, let go, and reach back on the first try? What about taking this slow? I didn’t say any of this, I simply smiled like I was fine with it.

The ladder was narrow and rickety. At the top of the platform, I was shaking as the woman before me jumped off and did flips and twists. The instructor clipped in my belt, had me lean out to grab the bar as he held my waist and then they said, “Hup” and I went. Almost immediately I was high in the air and the call for knees up came. Okay no problem I did it. Then a half second later he told me to let go. Nope, not that quick I thought. Give me some time! The second pass I let go, reached back, and then came back up.

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When I dropped to the net, I was happy, excited. “That was cool!”

“Great, do it faster next time. This is what the problems were,” he said as he critiqued my form.

Next thing I know I’m up there again moving faster. This class was not meant for just playing, they were there to push me along, and teach me the art because just a half hour later it was time for catches. Now I was going to let go, reach back, grab hands, and release my legs all at the same time. No comfort zone for trapeze artists. Each time I was shaking as I stood at the edge of the platform and jumped.

I accomplished the catch twice with no problem except I held with my knees just a little too long causing bruising. As I dropped down the instructor said, “You’re like the monkey who refuses to leave one vine before he’s secure on the next. If you want to fly you have to let go and trust that the next vine is in your reach.”

Wow, great advice for life too. And on the third try I did just that.

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