crossing the line.

this one’s a doozy of a read, but i promise there is a point.

the other weekend my dad & i decided to spend the afternoon in boulder, co. in this college town you can find the university of colorado boulder (obviously), a vast range of hiking trails & mountains, hipsters of all kinds, & the pearl street mall. the event i will speak of took place on pearl street. after we ate lunch at a local microbrewery, west flanders, my dad & i continued our brick road stroll down the mall. without a doubt you will find a street performer before the mall ends. also without a doubt, my dad will want to watch them display their perfected talents. moments later we came upon a small crowd & took position to be amazed.

a top hat, red suspenders, lot’s of hair, & a man stood center street. his next act would be to juggle fire & he did so with perfection. he juggled behind his back, under his leg, while spinning, & from standing to lying to standing once more. not only could he perform with ease, but was making the entire audience laugh. by this point the audience seemed to grow to half the mall. i must mention that he was one of the most captivating performers i have ever seen on that street. it didn’t take long until he was searching the crowd for volunteers, aka victims. what would an act be if he didn’t put someone else’s life in danger? no act that would entertain americans…i say.

now i was holding a stick of fire. lovely. i am not one who openly volunteers when one is requested. this time was no different, but what do you know i now had fire in my hand. i passed my leftovers & purse to my dad as i could feel perspiration begin to form (not due to the heat of the fire). before i knew it i was performing on command. i sashayed my way to the center of the crowd completing the pirouette he demanded. (side thought: do you remember when a circle would inevitably form on the dance floor of your middle school or high school dance? there would always be some poor guy or gal being shoved into the middle by one of their “friends”, forcing them to dance solo in front of everyone. this circle reminded me of that.) i landed between an ax & sword that laid on the ground. my next act would be to throw the fire stick, ax, & sword to him as he stood on the interlocked forearms of two men, also involuntarily volunteered. he allowed me one practice throw of the fire & let’s just say that went down in flames. with the failed practice throw over i stood there petrified holding all three objects high above my head hoping people couldn’t see sweat stains forming on my jacket.

it was time for the finale. he took mount atop the two men & my knees started to quiver. there’s no way i was going to be able to throw these & everyone knew it. he motioned for me to move closer & closer & closer. to my sweet relief i passed him the fire, ax, & sword. heart still racing i stood next to the pyramid of men as the three objects were juggled 10 feet above the ground (only a few ft above our three “volunteered” heads). just as quickly as it began, it ended. we all took a bow in front of the cheering crowd & i think i peed a little.

the crowd dispersed & we continued our walk. i immediately felt different. the whole day had changed. i was now someone else. i was “coli, the conquer of holding fire, ax, & sword at one time!” however, i conquered much more than that. how terrified i was to go in front of the crowd didn’t seem so terrifying anymore. i actually felt proud of myself, because i crossed over the line that is my comfort zone.

i think too often we get stuck in our comfort zones. we feel safe there. we know exactly how it’s supposed to go & there’s nothing at stake. when we push the boundaries of our comfort zone great things happen. we become something more than we were before. even if you fail & go crawling back into the zone at least you pushed yourself. it leaves the next time you take a step out that much easier. moreover, you will definitely learn something about yourself. i did. i left a heaping amount of my comfort zone in boulder that day & i will continue to leave pieces of it all over this state.

P.S. man who juggles fire, ax, & sword i’m looking for a job, need an assistant?


fire this is derek mcalister, fire juggler on pearl street that day, photo found here.

crossing the line.

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