A Looser Tightrope Walker – Easier on the Mind?

by Kathy Laurenhue on June 25, 2012

Charles Blondin

In the last post we talked about tightrope walker Nik Wallenda and his recent crossing over Niagara Falls. What most people don’t know is that Mr. Wallenda had what seems to have been a much more relaxed predecessor more than 150 years ago in  Frenchman Jean-Francois Gravelet, who went by the stage name Charles Blondin.

Mr. Blondin first walked a tightrope across Niagara Falls on June 30, 1859 when he was 35. It was a feat that he would repeat an incredible 17 times, although he walked above the falls, meaning before the water crashes, and away from its mists.

What I admire about Charles Blondin is that while his brain was every bit as wired for showmanship as Mr. Wallenda’s, he seemed to take to heart the official term for tightrope walker – funambulist – and play with his audience. In his subsequent crossings, here are a few of the feats he added:

  • Stopped in mid-course to take photographs of the crowd down below.
  • Pushed a wheelbarrow across the rope.
  • Traversed the tightrope while walking on stilts.
  • Carried a small stove on his back, stopped at the middle of the rope and prepared himself an omelet, which he then ate as his amazed audience watched.

(Source: http ://www.notablebiographies.com/supp/Supplement-A-Bu-and-Obituaries/Blondin-Charles.html)

Tightrope walking was his job, but he creatively added whimsy. So here’s the question of the day:

  • How can you add playful whimsy to your daily life?

You don’t need to do anything spectacular to bring pleasure to your own or another person’s life. For example:

  • Share a wind-up toy that makes you laugh. Laughter is contagious.
  • Wear a flower in your hair or lapel and when someone comments, say, “Yes, I’m a late bloomer, but better late than never.” Consider passing the flower on.
  • Step outdoors; then breathe deeply, breathing in joy, breathing out stress.
  • Do a spontaneous dance alone or with another person.
  • Conspire with someone to surprise someone else with a small treat.

Let me know what you think!

Because of his unique sense of balance and crowd-pleasing showmanship, Mr. Blondin was able to continue to perform risky tightrope feats until a year before his death at 75. And perhaps even more amazing, death ultimately came to him peacefully in his sleep! We wish as much for Nik Wallenda.

In the next blog, we will talk about the importance of play to a creative mind.

Note to readers: A version of the above story appears in the MindPlay Connections™ publication, “Olympic Oooos and Ahhhs” available from the Wiser Now store at http://shop.wisernow.com/.  Enjoy the trivia quizzes, word games and
discussion topics you’ll find there!



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