I felt nothing but pure thrill, pure joy, and pure pride every time I spun myself off of that trapeze and into a neck hang, and the crowd screamed. For months I had trained this very trick, and performing it in Redbird Arena was even more incredible than I had imagined. For less than a minute I hung there, spinning from my neck, but it was one of those infinite minutes where time freezes and your senses go into high gear-- soaking up everything the moment has to offer. My heart was so full.
However, even better than this moment are the ones that came directly after:
The members of Gamma Phi Circus are both performers and backstage hands. We each have show assignments that we handle out of sight of the audience in order to make our fellow members' acts run smoothly during show. For this particular act of mine, triple trapeze, nearly half the troupe was needed to help the act backstage. The support was not lost on me.
For my neck hang, I was suspended in the air by a line, a rope, that several troupe members held off stage. As I spun, they slowly lowered me down to the mats set beneath me, and I could hear some of them cheering.
Once I reached the mats, my spots Karissa and Chris would always whisper "good job" and other words of encouragement as they stabilized me and helped me take off my neck loop. They had been kneeling at the mats the whole time I had been performing, looking up and watching for any potential dangers or mistakes, ready to catch me if I were to fall for whatever reason. Any time I performed a high-risk trick, like a foot hang or back balance, I would see them nodding and smiling below me and hear them whispering the kind of support that gave me strength to cast off my nerves and complete the trick, accident free. I was reminded of this as their hands supported my dizzy self when I reached the mats after our final trick, that spinning neck hang.
I would then look to my partner, Alison Tye, who stood in character off the mats a foot in front of me. She always gave me a little nod and half smile. Taking her hand, I'd step off the mats and join a line with her and the rest of the performers of that act for our final style. This was a line of performers that just happened to be made up of the five women I looked up to most; Alison, Mattie, Haley, Danyelle, and Lexi were all seniors and all leaders that I had idolized and adored since I joined the circus. taking hold of each other's arms, I had the privilege of walking forward with them, into the light in the center of the arena. That was a moment I will never forget.
It was in these last moments that my heart went from full to overflowing.
In the neck hang I felt the culmination of all of my hard work, the admiration of the audience, the joy of performing. But in those moments after, I felt the outpouring of love and support of my troupe-mates-- from my line pullers, my spots, and my fellow triple trapeze performers. The same love and support they had lavished on me all year long was now magnified under the arena lights as we finally pulled off the big show we had been preparing for all year. We did it. And it was incredible.
Next time you find yourself in one of those beautiful, magical, infinite moments like I did in my neck hang, soak it in for all that it is. But then pay close attention to those next moments, and acknowledge the moments that came before it. Notice everything that went into the magic-- especially all of the people that made it possible, the people that were there for you. I bet you'll quickly see that those people are the true magic. I bet you'll be overwhelmed with gratitude for all that led you to that moment, and excitement for all that comes after.
I will never be able to say "thank you" enough to the people that have given me these magic moments. All I can do is turn around and try to fill others' lives with such moments the way they have done for me.