by Brantley Ivey
“Center yourself, find your footing, and keep moving forward.”
It is April 2015. My professor and mentor Benjamin Sota is coaching me across a tightrope. Twenty-one years old and a month from graduation/impending adulthood, I am struggling to maintain my balance. In search of any sense of control, I clutch my toes around the rope. This proves to be wildly unsuccessful as the wire tenses beneath me. My hips shoot to the left as my arms sprawl across to the right, fingers desperately clutching nothing but thin air. Surely there is no recovery, I tell myself as I brace for a fall which, thanks to good guidance, never happened.
That simple and that complicated. Before engaging in any venture, be it mundane or awe-inspiring, we must acknowledge that anything attempted without engaging our innermost self will be nothing more than superfluous, wasted effort. Our need for control will prove to be as useless as fingers desperately clutching thin air. Tentatively, not forcefully, we redirect our steps. With eyes softly focused on what lies before us, however far and however difficult to make out, we continue forward.
It is April 2016. Twenty-two years old and less than a year into young adulthood, I often struggle to maintain my balance. I reflect on Ben’s words. Center yourself, find your footing, and keep moving forward. Take a breath and venture out onto the tightrope fixed just one inch from the ground. Missteps will be made, balance will be crucial, as will the willingness to recover from inevitable setbacks, but it will prove to be the performance of your lifetime.
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