Equilibrium


Angelo never felt quite right …

He was a strong young man, bright, passionate, yet growing up he always felt out of place amongst his piers.  He felt a passing tourist in this world rather one of its residents. He wasn’t distraught about this fact, a little perplexed perhaps, slightly uncomfortable, but not distraught.  In fact he found it rather pleasantly dull and uneventful, though he did not spent much of his time pondering it.

The only aspect of his life he found vexing at the age of fifteen was his father’s persistent insistence that he should decide what to do with his life.  In the 1950’s, in this small Sicilian town, such was the norm and custom.  After all, all his friends were already committed to a craft or profession that would occupy and provide for them.  This, his father would remind him daily.

And such was once more the conversation, rather the soliloquy, that was taking place on a summer Saturday night as Angelo and his father walked to the festivities.  The touring circus was in town and that was a wonder to behold, a grand local event anticipated every year by all, including Angelo.

They sat down, the lights dimmed, the show began.

It was funny, it was exciting, it was exotic, and magical, it was all that was expected, until …

Until …

The lights went dark, the music stopped, a shuffle ensued, strange noises and whispers, and then … the lights!

Two masts, a rope in between, and a man, with a balancing beam.

Angelo had seen this before, nothing particularly new about a tightrope walker … yet somehow something was different this time.  The lack of a safety net was observed yet it is not what captured his attention.  But something did, almost instinctively, and a sentiment was triggered that he could not yet describe.

As the act began Angelo was mesmerized by it.  Something about the balance of the man, about his grace, his skill, his precision, his indifference to danger, something … he could not take his eyes of every one of his movements or the rope’s, Angelo was entranced.

He knew there and then what he wanted to do, he wanted to do THAT!

The rest of the show flew by as if it took a second and Angelo took no notice of it.  A million thoughts in his mind at once and his heart bursting with excitement.

The show ended, he composed himself, and started figuring out how he would tell his father of this decision.  What would his father say, he will surely think him crazy, he might even throw him out on the street.  But Angelo was determined …

And so it was that night at dinner when Angelo told his father of this ambition, and his father declared him crazy, and his father threw him out on the street.

It must have been midnight when Angelo found himself in the periphery of the circus.  The smell of manure and wine indicated as much.  He walked around the camp in a daze, smelling the food, watching the sparks of the bonfires, hearing animals and random violins.  Faces half made up looked at him with smiles, drunk performers stumbled by him, and all was perfect.

He found himself before a small tent, he walked in, and the tightrope walker stood before him.  Angelo sat down, told him of his experience, told him about his father, and with barely enough volume in his voice to cary his words, asked the man if he would take him in as an apprentice. Angelo said he would work for free, he would ask for nothing but a meal a day, he would work unconditionally, he would do anything to one day walk that rope … anything to learn that wondrous craft that he was called to, indeed born for.

The tightrope walker looked at Angelo and said yes.

And so Angelo’s destiny began to materialize and Angelo left with the circus that next morning and never looked back.

For the first year of his apprenticeship all Angelo was allowed to do in regards to his education of the craft is walk on a rope on the ground.  For a year all Angelo did is learn every fiber of that rope under his feet as if it was as familiar as his own skin.  First on a slack rope, then on a rigid one, by the end of the year he knew every bump and twist of the rope and walking on it was as natural as pacing the ordinary ground.

On the second year the exact same thing happened, but with the rope now a foot off of the ground and the beam in his hands.  Angelo felt the slack, learned to balance himself, compensate for the rope’s elasticity.  And by the end of year two, after tortuous repetition and practice, Angelo felt on that rope as if he were born on it.

On the third year of his apprenticeship, the rope beneath him having become first nature to him, he learned all the tricks, and all the showmanship.  The rope was raised to a hundred feet, the net beneath him, and Angelo became a master at the skill of tightrope walking.

Angelo fell often, he never complained, he was the happiest soul on earth.  And after three years happily devoting his entire existence to his craft, he was incredible!  His master himself stood in wonderment at Angelo’s skill and grace.  His master thought Angelo the best tightrope walker he’d ever laid eyes on.

To Angelo the rope was no rope at all.  His skill and comfort upon it was such that the rope might as well been a bridge.

And so the night of his debut came.

The lights went dark, the music stopped, a shuffle ensued, strange noises and whispers, and then … the lights!

And Angelo stood where he once gazed, ready to take the first step.

He stood there confidently, for the rope was his home, his skill was beyond doubt, his talents second to none.

He looked down, he saw that there was no net, and thought of the peril.  His mind suddenly aware of consequences and his heart filled with fear.  He tried to shake it off, after all there’s no difference between a foot and one hundred feet to the feeling of the rope.  And his skill was not an issue … he could do this as he had done it thousands of times before.

Sensing the rising anticipation of the crowd, and with these thoughts filling his mind, Angelo took his first step upon the rope …

As Angelo fell to the ground to die, and as he flew through the air for what seemed like hours, he wondered how this happened to him … he wondered how he let his mind create the very fear that was about to kill him, and sadness overtook him in his wonderment of how and why he allowed this of himself.

I wonder too …

Also available on: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread598071/pg1

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Comments

  1. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    Your first two paragraphs described me well enough that you captured my attention. That is how you start a story. 🙂

    Of course, i don’t know if i am the only one who feels this way or if it is common. But i have always felt as if i was a spectator. I have had little interest in partaking in life in general. I prefer to read and learn about anything that is true (nonfiction).

    I once told my wife that i didn’t feel human. That i had a human body, but that i was not from this place. She looked at me like i was crazy, and asked what i meant. I explained that i don’t know what i mean by that, but that is just how i feel. I feel so unlike these people that I have been around. Were it not for the mind numbing, soul burning love I have for my wife, i would accomplish nothing in life outside of that of a hermit in the mountains.

    Is this something others feel? My wife sure didn’t understand (she has since just accepted that i am “different” and loves me anyway). But i have wondered, is this something others have felt?

    I have often just dismissed it as some strange Jungian type of symptom of my ego and psyche learning to get along. But there is always that wondering…why? Why do i feel so alien on my own planet? Why do i look at other people as being like monkeys? With primate behaviors that seem silly and often needlessly aggressive? And it annoys me when i find myself aacting so biologically human.

    I don’t mean that i take any of this to a pathological level. It is just a secret that sits right beneath the water, never moving and never changing.

  2. Ziggy (formerly known as Cloak n' Dagger) says:

    I have some suggestions for your story. (And if you thinnk I am too harsh, well, you are top dog around here, so you can simply delete my comment! 😀 )

    First of all, get rid of the all caps. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and besides I don’t want you to yell at me… The last part of this sentence is redundant anyway: “He knew there and then what he wanted to do, he wanted to do THAT!

    “He knew there and then what he wanted to do.” is enough.

    Also get rid of the very last sentence. It is also redundant, and it is too late to introduce a storyteller at the last moment. If you want to have a “narrator” in your story, he should be there right from the start, not suddenly show up at the very end and break the magic. The reader has been inside Angelo’s mind the whole time, the last sentence pulls him/her out of this illusion for no good reason really.

    I also have problems understanding why Angelo suddenly gets filled with this fatal fear. It doesn’t really make sense to me. (Perhaps it’s not meant to make sense, but personally I like things to add up a bit.)

    I would have placed Angelo’s father in the audience on the night of his debut. Let Angelo spot him there, see his father’s displeased face. It would have tied the up the loose end from the beginning of the story:
    “And so it was that night at dinner when Angelo told his father of this ambition, and his father declared him crazy, and his father threw him out on the street.”
    This is a conflict and great drama which seem to be forgotten as your story progresses. A loose end.

    Have you heard about “Chekhov’s gun”? Anton Chekhov said:
    “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

    The conflict between Angelo and his father could actually have been the “rifle” in the beginning your story, and this rifle could have been “fired” in the ending of it. The disgruntled father, his resentful eyes, they could have sparked the sudden fear in Angelo…

    Oh well, forgive my ramblings, all this is just suggestions anyway. I guess it is the editor in me who can’t keep her big mouth shut. And my suggestions would perhaps have made your story into something completely different than you intended, so disregard them completely if you wish. It is your story after all, and I did enjoy reading it!

    Ziggy 🙂

  3. So… It’s been a few days. Would have thought you had some kind of reaction to my (perhaps too harsh?/stupid?/useless?) comment to your story by now.

    Oh well. That was a waste of my time then, wasn’t it?

    • Settle down young lady … I haz neither forgotten nor forsaken thee. 😀

      Just a little busy these days.

      I’ll respond to the both of youz soon … I promise.

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