Balanced on the trapeze platform thirty feet in the air, I gripped the chalky bar and tensed. Then I jumped, airborne for my first swing "out of lines" – just me, the bar, and the net below.
I was scared; not only did I not have a safety harness, but I had also broken my back in a climbing accident in Kenya just ten months earlier. Once I took off, though, pure joy overcame the fear. I was flying – truly flying – for the first time.
After having single-mindedly taken the path expected of me as a teenager, trapeze unlocked an intoxicating feeling of weightlessness and freedom. As I progressed, I set a goal of flying out of lines, though I did not fully understand the potential for injury. When I fractured my spine, however, these risks became excruciatingly clear – along with my overriding desire to get back on the trapeze as soon as possible.
Now, each time I take off from the platform without a harness, I am more intentional. Taking that risk is not an end in itself: it is a means to unlocking a feeling of flow, in which my intentions and actions fuse together – and suddenly, I'm soaring through the air.
I want to take more risks on the things that matter, to feel that same flow and sense of purpose in all aspects of my life – yes, even those that don’t involve the circus.