“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
– Rachel Carson
I went to see Cirque de Soleil today. And I marveled at all they accomplished in only two hours. They created a small universe of exquisite beauty and talent. The sets, costumes, and lighting were unparalleled. Their performers’ talent was truly amazing and unique. And the show’s ability to transport the audience back to childhood wonderment was truly worth the price of admission. But more than that, I marveled at how there’s a place for everyone in the show, and if you extrapolate, a place for everyone in this world no matter how different they are.
For example, on one stage I saw contortionists, fire dancers, acrobats, singers, musicians, and clowns. Where else in the world do you see some of these people? And do you wonder if when they were little they worried where they might fit into the big picture? Most children who go to their parents and say “I want to be a fire dancer” will be steered in another direction. They will be gently, and then more firmly, encouraged to pursue another career. But ultimately there will always be children who don’t fit into the norms of society. It’s nice to know that whatever interest they have, there is ultimately a place in this huge world for them – if they only have the courage to search that place out.
And that courage is key – to discover who you are and to find your place in the world takes great determination. When I was little, I had many interests. And when I would take them to my parents, I was gently discouraged from pursuing them. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I wanted to be a writer, a film maker, an ice skater. Even more practical pursuits were discouraged for practical reasons – we just didn’t have the money to send me to law school or medical school. The result is that I’m still looking. I still haven’t found a place in this world to call my own. At middle age, that’s rather discouraging.
So I would ask two things of you. As a woman, and possibly a parent, you have great influence over the children in your lives. Encourage them in their dreams and pursuits. Help them discover their place in the world – even if that place is on a high wire for Cirque de Soleil! Let them start early to define themselves. This gives them so much more time to shine and to positively influence the world around them.
And secondly, if you never found your own place, start looking. Our talents are uniquely matched to where we belong. And it’s only through giving our talents to the world that we fulfill our destiny in this life. So this afternoon, I sat in a paper snow storm watching a clown cry onstage. Tomorrow, I go into the storm of life to discover what I’ve missed and where I belong. Won’t you come with me?