“It’s all about the motions we make near the end of our rope,” said the Ringmaster as he sat on the hay bale, boots covered in sawdust, hands deftly weaving a new whip from the cord the rope maker just gave him.
“A flick of the wrist, the wind cracks, the end frays, and the punters gasp. A slice in the air, the lion bleeds, the whip hardens, and the roar stops. These are things you must master to survive in the ring.”
Gently coiling the whip, he stood, walked to where the acrobats stretched, and picked up a trapeze board. As he ran his rope through the metal hoops screwed to the plank I saw the whip was not a whip at all.
“A curve of your hand, a coil through a loop, a support that you hoist, and lovers can fly. A wrap with another, their rope that you twine, nets that you weave, and all can fall free. These are things you must master to thrive in the ring.”
Motioning to the men who were setting up the circus he untied the board, and took his rope over to where they worked. He effortlessly knotted his cord with theirs so when done I could see no joint, then walked in a large circle around the dirt field the men had covered with their tent, laying line as he went. He stopped near the end of his cycle and rather than close the loop, he laid down the end to form a doorway into the ring.
“The steps that you take, the rope that you lay, marks but the path to where you are. It is spent rope. Do not mourn it. It’s the motion you make near the end of the your rope that opens or closes what comes next. These are things you must master to understand the ring.”
Leaving the rope behind, he walked to the center of ring, put on his top hat and turned slowly to me.
“You asked how I became a ringmaster? Well, I will tell you. Each day I was handed rope I practiced.
“Oh yes, some days in anger I whipped in a frenzy so the blood ran deep, and I was ashamed. Some days in fear I wove so tight there was no give in my grasp, and I was alone. Some days I stumbled and some days I danced. But each day I was handed rope, I practiced. Understand this and you will know almost all that is required to be a ringmaster.”
“Almost all?” I asked.
He smiled, wrinkles in his eyes, and whispered. “Look around. What would I be without this ring?
“The crowds would not come without this ring. The children would not laugh without this ring. The performers would not eat without this ring, I would be nothing without this ring.
“The last thing to understand is that there are no ringmasters. The ring we weave is the master, and we but serve through the motions we make near the end of our ropes.”