Random fact: I am completely obsessed with tightrope artists. Funnily enough, this doesn't come up often in conversation.
This weekend, friends shared with us that they have hit a bit of a rough patch in their marriage. Along with the heartache that quite naturally springs from a revelation like this, I was left with a vague sense of imbalance. I went to sleep troubled, and woke with the vivid image of a tightrope walker on my mind.
A tightrope stretches in front of each of us, in any relationship that matters.
You begin your journey in confidence. Of course you step out in confidence! How else could you be convinced that this was a reasonable undertaking, if not for your blind faith that you absolutely have the skills and abilities to reach the other side? As you inch your way out over the chasm, your confidence is so great that the twist of rope beneath you feels as solid as a twelve inch plank.
You get a bit further out, and the winds pick up. Maybe it is a single gust, that blows you momentarily off balance. Maybe it is a steady breeze that makes each step, each inch forward a challenge. Maybe your legs simply start to tremble.
Just for today, let Your People know that you love 'em, no matter where they are on (or off) the rope.
Whatever the reason, all of the sudden you are wobbling, way out on this woven cord with nothing to hold onto. Every rule of tightrope walking tells you not to look down - never look down - but maybe it's the looking down that made you start to sway in the first place. Maybe you took your eye off the far side, and started focusing on your toes curling around that stupid skinny rope instead.
So you're wavering, and you know good and well that you are the only person who will steady the rope. It won't happen by looking down, it won't happen by flailing your arms around helplessly. The only thing - the only thing - that will stave off disaster is a change of focus. Pulling your eyes up, and finding the far side again.
Maybe some of us won't be able to pull it back. Maybe some of us won't be able to withstand the buffeting wind, or maybe the sway of the rope will have gotten too far out of control. Maybe all that can be done at that point is to consciously look down, to keep looking down, and believe with all your heart that the safety net of those that love & care for you will be there as you fall.
Some of us...some of us will make it through those vicious winds. Some of us will find the steadying stillness, and we won't be sure quite how we did it. The only way through the swaying is to continue: stopping - standing still - is simply not an option.
So, whilst I've had that vague swaying feeling all day, having heard my friend's news, I will choose to continue along the journey on my own rope, stretching out over the void. Inch by inch, my toes will creep across the twisted cord.
I have to believe that my friends' toes will keep them moving across the rope too. If not, I sure as hell am one of the people who make up the net underneath.
There are millions of blogs out there - funny, frank, or starkly painfully honest - that will freely discuss our failures as parents. But I find that when it comes to our failures in relationships, we are less able to open up, to admit that we are wavering.