Safety nets

If you’ve ever been to the circus, you know that you, the audience member, feel much better if the trapeze artists and the tightrope walkers have safety nets beneath them. For although some of the lure of the circus is the danger element, none of us really want to watch someone get hurt or worse.

In fact, many years ago I took my children to an air show in Mainz, Germany. We watched all sorts of aeronautic maneuvers. It was fun– until we looked over to the right, out of the performance area and saw a plane spiraling downward and then fire and smoke. The pilot was killed. A couple of weeks later, I took those same, traumatized children to a rodeo. It was all going fine until a bull stomped on the stomach of one of the riders. He waved as they carried him out. “He’s going to be fine,” I reassured my children. He wasn’t. He died.

So for me, safety nets are a very important part of a performance that has any danger.

Like life

…an inherently dangerous performance.

I thought about my early life and how I didn’t live in a very emotionally safe environment and how in my own childish way, I constructed a safety net for myself. It consisted of my grandmothers, one or two aunts, a random teacher or two… OK, it wasn’t very strong, but it was enough to sustain me.

I think about how now my children and grandchildren have wide safety nets- strong ones because of all of the positive family connections– of people who may be too busy to talk to on a daily basis, but people who can absolutely be relied upon in times of need. I remember how the family pulled together to assist me in bringing my father-in-law to live in Israel. Everyone played a part in making that transition possible. I remember when my children were going through difficult times, they really were there emotionally and physically for each other. I think of my grandchildren who are embraced on all sides by siblings and by cousins from both sides of their families, and I realize that they must feel safe and secure.

And maybe that is what is really tough about life in some places where people move far away from family… Unless they are able to form close attachments in their community, they are walking this tightrope of life without a safety net.

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