The Tightrope Walk

Have you ever walked a tightrope? It’s a classic circus apparatus requiring extreme balance. Many factors are involved in the balance – amount of slack, material deformation, personal weight, inner ear health, ability to be present. Any modification in these factors can be devastating to the walk and cause a fall.

Living a life outside the norm is a tightrope walk. It takes courage. In the artistic profession, there are so many things to balance that can make normalcy nearly unachievable. Maybe we are selected for this profession due gravitation toward abnormal? There is a factor of risk – financial, physical, mental, emotional. These risks can easily sway and throw the balance.

The financial balance is seemingly obvious, but it is a more complex component in this tightrope walk than observed at first glance. There is the balance between accessibility to and the pureness of art. Accessibility can be viewed as soul-sucking servitude in exchange for financial stability. Being purely artistic and poorly understood is a serious financial risk. It can make you famous or lost in the mix. If an artist can reach into an observer’s soul and touch something unspeakable, it can result in fame. Achieving this is difficult requiring brilliant design, often subconscious.

The physical balance is also seemingly obvious with physical artists. We are always trying to outdo our own work to keep things fresh for those we entertain and to challenge ourselves. In pushing to outdo, we can stretch our physical capacity and cause a break. Pushing toward greater achievement is a temptation from which it is hard to turn. It is a drug so tempting. Finding that limit of where physical boundaries are pushed but the body is better rather than broken. It is a drug that takes many artists out of their performance career permanently and can change life in an instant.

Mental balance is one less discussed. The mental toughness to survive in artistic profession is hard. To be a working artist, it takes a special perseverance. There is perseverance against the nay-sayers swearing you will never make it. They can place such a seed of doubt from which an artist may not recover. There is perseverance against making a name amongst other talents. There is perseverance to innovate to stand apart from those talents. There is perseverance of spirit against our own self-doubt, against how hard things get. Many artists drop out of their profession because the mental game becomes unbearable and they wave their white flag in surrender.

Place these balancing points amongst attempt to lead a life with a normal person and it can be unachievable. Mix in abnormal scheduling, physical exhaustion, mental stress with someone who lives in normalcy and the combination can be deadly causing a unrecoverable tumble from the tightrope. Unless you have engaged in the life of an artist, it can be hard to understand. Even if you are engaged in their life, it can be something difficult to comprehend. As such, a trek on the artistic tightrope can be a lonely place.

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