The circus is in town again and the most remarkable thing happened: one of the acrobats missed. While trying to jump rope on high wire above the stage one of the acrobats missed and barely caught himself before falling into the safety netting. Rather than spoil the show, catching and then pulling himself back up on the wire were an added treat and as impressive as the rest of performance.
But shouldn’t we expect perfection? Don’t the acrobats work eight shows a week and rehearse countless months before touring? This isn’t dancing with the stars, this is supposed to be a professional show.
But should Kyle Orton never throw an interception? The truth is that unlike many shows, Cirque continues to push the limits of human abilities just like pro atheletes. That’s one of the reasons I like Cirque so much. I realize the amount of work that has gone into the performance but even after that much work mistakes still happen. Roller bladders slip on the ramp; strongmen need a second attempt to lift some impossible contraption; acrobats fall off of wires. All enhance my view of the performance because each highlights the pure difficutly of the routine.
And each reminds me of the humility needed to work in truly difficult fields. Anyone can work to achieve perfection in the simple and ordinary. We can and should get change back without error and restaurants should be able to make our order right every time but if you are working in truly difficult environments mistakes will be made. This is even harder to acknolwedge in the digital age. We have autotuners and Photoshop, invisible teleprompters and special effects, if we can envision it we can record it and repeat it. But in real time we need to catch ourselves and try to get back up.
Once back up we need to rember that there are always mistakes when you are pushing the limits. Regularlity can often be achieved but perfection is almost impossible. And when it looks too good it probably is. Bill Miller had his record but everyone knew it was on the up and up precisely because of the drama. Would the streak hold up was often talk of Christmas parties in the final years but steady solid regualarity can be reassuring unless your trying something really dificulty, just ask Bernie Madoffs clients.