Tension at the Big Top

Saturday I got the Tiger out of storage near Yosemite and headed over to San Jose to see Cirque du Soleil’s show “Amaluna.”

The ride across was just lovely. The day was perfect, with the sun streaming down on the hills that looked like crumpled brown paper bags tossed out in a line. Seems like a long time since I’d headed over Pacheco Pass. The water levels in the reservoir looked dreadfully low as I glanced up from the fast sweepers. I prayed rain.

I just had time to check into my motel and change and empty my side cases before heading down the street to the show. Avoiding the paid parking lots, I found a scrap of curb on a side street just big enough. Love that benefit of riding a motorcycle! I swapped my grungy touring jacket for a fun dressy jacket, and my hiking/riding boots for cutsey boots, and crammed all my riding gear in the luggage. Amen.

I took some pictures of Le Grand Chapiteau from the outside, but of course no pictures are allowed inside. Somewhere I notice a poster that the whole band for this show is female, a first for Cirque. And some truly awesome sassy sax!

I appreciated the myth about a girl coming of age, with all the acts as celebration gifts to her. The intricate juxtaposition between her child-self and reptilian brain then her woman-self and romance prevailing made a nice backdrop for my favorite acts – the ones that fly on scarves and soar over the audience. I particularly appreciated the symbolism at the end, where the lizard performer does an amazing juggling and dance act with white balls, showing that in itself, her reptilian aspect is neutral not antagonistic.

Filled with beauty and popcorn, I reflected as I moseyed out with the crowd and back to my bike. The mythos of the show was nice and well done. But the real insight for me had come before the show, taking pictures. It was this one:

Noticing how the different wires pull against the poles, holding them upright, and how the dynamic tensions in our lives are anchored in opposition, apparent conflict, to create the space for our inner experience to unfold.

Desire to spend time with my kids pulling against desire to escape the cold
Desire for income for college, for travel, for wheels pulling against desire for meaningful work that makes a difference
Desire to delve into learning everything about meditation, business, engines, psyche pulling against diving into explorations of my own inner landscape and insights

It’s not an either-or where I need to choose one and let the other go. They need each other, in creative tension, to hold the space open for me. Sure, there might be some light-weight lines used only for nuanced curvature. But the deeply anchored cables that make up the values space for my life ALL matter.

When the space isn’t quite right for the desired experience, they don’t pull out the anchors and move them around. They just adjust the different degrees of tension on various wires. They can adapt to sloped ground or rising wind.

And for all the metaphysical perspective about there being no significant difference between the space outside and the space inside, just the somewhat arbitrary boundary of the tent skin, experientially the difference is significant.

Lots of time for reflection as I sat at the sushi bar across from my motel, listening to the Japanese swirling around me. Comforting presence of happy conversation, yet not distracting since I didn’t understand a word of it.

Where have you put your stake in the ground?

What are the areas of your life that pull with creative tension to hold your space open?

How can you adjust the tension to adapt?

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