We are a bunch of fly junkies. A trapeze community, the most incredible mash up of people I have ever seen, from every walk of life and of every age, all united by the same inescapable drive to fly in the air. Often we don’t even understand why we are so drawn to it, but one thing is for sure – we cannot escape it. It is a part of our existence now, runs through our veins. And like a true addict, the thought of living without it is unbearable. Slowly we make life decisions based on our access to a trapeze rig – where we live, where we work, what we do for a living, who we date. Desperately returning to the bar and to the air, desperate to keep flying. But what are we so desperate for? We do bigger and bigger tricks, catching them, ticking them off the list, striving for perfection. But we never feel satisfied. There is that bottomless hole in our stomachs. We never quite reach what we are searching for.
Because what we are searching for is that feeling of freedom. We have vivid dreams of it when we sleep. The weightlessness, and total control, in free-flight between the bar and the catchers hands. But while we still have the belt on and clipped into lines we can never experience the true feeling. We try to take the lines off and we can’t. We freeze. We panic. We get angry. We get frustrated. And we cry. Worst of all we beat ourselves up about it over and over again, because we don’t understand why we can’t do it. The trick is beautiful in lines, it’s safe, why can’t we just take it out? We hate ourselves for it. We torture ourselves with it. And then we admit defeat, tell ourselves that we are not brave enough, and go and learn a new trick to make ourselves feel better.
The truth is – that moment of total freedom is stolen from us if we are worried about our landing. An incomplete sentence. There is no greater feeling than having total control of your body as you twist and turn in the air from 20 ft up and land perfectly on your back in the net. The end punctuation. We care so much about what we’re doing in the air and in the bar, we miss the most important part – what we do in the net. Because, without our landing being second nature, we will never be free to enjoy what we do in the air. But instead of working on developing a close friendship with the net, we develop a very powerful relationship with the lines. And they are chains to us. Psychological chains. The more we use them the more we fear flying without them.
This summer I was flying with wonderful coach Dylan Ehrenburg, who specialises in out of lines flying, and infact inspired this whole article. And there I was, yet again, trying to take my shooting star out. Reaching my release point and seeing stars from blind panic. I gritted my teeth, felt totally trapped by my own fears. A slave to the lines and their cruel game. Fucking lines, I cursed, if only I’d never used them from the start. Dylan looked at me and smiled. Because, of course, that’s what he does. After he teaches the very basics, no lines are allowed for 6 weeks, in order to make you a capable and confident flyer, before you develop that dependency, and before the fear becomes engrained. In those 6 weeks you will learn to put yourself in every which way and direction on and off the bar, platform and into the net. Before you even look at a trick. I look on in awe and green with envy at the students that have grown up flying with Dylan. They are empowered flyers. The lines to them are an unnecessary annoyance. Their flying is entirely in their own hands, never in the hands of someone on the ground, Everything that they do – they own. They can go to any rig, and fly freely without the help of anyone else. It belongs to them.
And that is what we crave. True ownership of what we are doing.
So I will swallow my pride. Put my big tricks back to bed for a while, alongside my ego. And I will start again right back at square 1, with a new mindset, and a new perspective on the whole of my flying trapeze training. I will begin a new journey. A journey not just to become a better flyer, but to become a liberated flyer. An independent flyer. I will face up to my fears, one by one, and iron them out through repetition, no matter how long it takes. In the hope that once I have found that total ease of flight, I will be able to one day empower others to do the same. To give them the same toolbox they need to become the flyer that they dream of.
After all – the beauty and awe of the flying trapeze is in that moment of weightlessness, with no lines, nothing. Just us. With no fear. Only then can we find our moment of true freedom. That is what we search for. And why would we deprive ourselves of the one thing we came here to do?