Life is a trapeze

Maude Banvard, The Catch, Brockton Fair, Massachusetts, 1907

Life is a trapeze.
It may be scary to jump off
but if you let go,
take a risk and trust,
you can revel in the heady excitement
of the leap
and learn to fly.

Shannyn Steel

This image captivated me this week.  When I saw it I drew a deep breath and sat up entranced.  It crept back into my thoughts constantly. I wasn’t sure why it enthralled me so until I sat down just now to write about it.

The image is a beautiful metaphor for so many aspects of life.

Jumping off – you can’t begin anything until you take that leap of faith.  We all know the adage that reminds us that if we don’t jump, we can’t fly.  If you haven’t jumped, and you are pushed, take it as a sign you should have jumped and embrace this new chance to fly.

Letting go – jumping off requires letting go. You can’t grab hold of the next bar until you let go of the one you are holding.  Who knows what’s next but a friend of mine regularly reminds me to choose the exciting nerve-wracking option (can’t get any more nerve-wracking than trapeze. Well, there’s skydiving I guess).

Transitions –  all transitions require jumping off and letting go. It’s in that space in-between that we reassemble and redefine ourselves, so we can fully embrace the next opportunity.

Living a happy and fulfilled life – do something that scares you every day , or so say today’s life coaches.  Jumping, letting go, choosing the nerve-wracking option will cover that objective pretty much. Living a happy and fulfilled life is also, for me,  about not tying happiness to a person or things but to goals.

Then there is vulnerability, trust and risk. You can’t gain anything without an element of risk, sometimes you have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable to attract the good in life and even when trust has been broken, you can’t live life without it. To get the best out of people you have to expect the best and offer your best. It’s a simple, elegant yet uneasy equation but one that will pay off.

I am sure there are many more elements to be captured from this stunning image. I’m not sure I’ve exhausted every reason this photograph delights me. I shall continue to ponder its magic and messages. In the meantime, take a leap of faith – see where you land. I will be, you can be sure.


Do you still have your kaleidoscope?


“The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colors which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.”                                            James Edward Allen, American Artist

I’ve been experimenting. Not again you might say. But yes, why stop? Life is full of opportunities to explore and investigate. Anyway, my experiment has to do with perspectives and ways of thinking.

I’ve noticed I’m a black hat thinker. Have you heard of the six thinking hats developed by Edward de Bono? De Bono identified six ways of thinking and to help maximise the potential of these styles in classrooms, the boardroom and beyond he labeled them with a coloured hat. A hat you could literally or figuratively wear as called for in different situations.

The image below provides a quick summary (sourced image ).


So, as I was saying. When in new situations or faced with new challenges and potential obstacles I more often than not go straight to black hat. I identify all the possible problems, threats, dangers and risks. I used to lament this quirk in my nature. However, I’ve noticed, that as I’ve accepted my mental model more that it isn’t all negative. I do this instinctively so that I can manage potential issues to ensure success is more likely.

I recently complimented a work colleague on his yellow hat thinking. He says yes, immediately. He sees potential and is ready to make magic happen. No task is too big or too small for him. We are total opposites in our initial reactions. From his wonderfully yellow position he shared with me that the strength of a team relies on all types of thinkers. That we compliment each other with our differences.

What a beautiful perspective.

I thought then that life is like a potpourri, its richness and wonder comes from ingredients of different colours, shapes and textures. Then I remembered the wonder of a childhood toy, the kaleidoscope. Life is like that too. It’s true beauty is revealed when we are aware of other perspectives, when we are open to accepting them and challenging ourselves to try on different ‘hats’ so we too can view the world differently.

In my work as a facilitator of teaching and learning I’ve challenged my adult learners to use different hats in given scenarios. They’ve been intrigued and delighted. Personally, I’ve been using my green hat to explore creative alternatives, at home and at work, and it’s so much fun.

Can you identify the hat you wear most? Does it need a little holiday? Are you willing to try on another hat, or two or three this coming week? I encourage you to change things up for, in the words of Sharon Salzberg, “life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope – a slight change, and all patterns alter.”

Have fun,