Your heads will quite likely spin right off your shouldsters.
So hurry! Step lively! Quick, ladies and gents!
And quick get in to your seats in my Tent-of-all-Tents!
from If I Ran the Circus
by Dr. Seuss
Random House, 1956
It’s Sunday afternoon as I’m putting my thoughts down, and I wonder, How can I feel nostalgic for something I’ve never experienced? The last Barnum and Bailey/Ringling Brothers Circus will stream live at 7:00 this evening from New York City.
The circus used to come to my town every spring. Not Ringling/Barnum and Bailey, but still. My kids went on school field trips or maybe with their Scout Troops. Discount tickets were made available at local grocery stores and in the newspaper. But I never went. I don’t know why.
Kenneth Feld, CEO, cited the decreasing ticket sales and the increasing costs of presenting the show as influencing his difficult decision to close after over 140 years. Losing the elephants had something to do with the declining sales.
According to CNN
For years, the elephants have been in the spotlight and their dance routines featured prominently in the shows.
But due to mounting criticism from animal rights groups, the Ringling Bros. phased out the elephant acts entirely. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/14/entertainment/ringling-circus-closing/
. . .
Tuesday morning, early, finds me finishing up my thoughts. I click back to the circus website: www.ringling.com to see if I can share that live stream with you. Through the magic of technology I find the entire show saved for all eternity. It’s not like being there I’m sure (even though I’ve never been there), but The Greatest Show on Earth lives on.
I’m watching the lion and tiger act. At first, I wonder is this what lions are meant to do? should tigers do the bidding of their trainer, sitting and jumping on command? But they look like they enjoy performing. They look well-cared for. The trainer calls each one by name and assures the audience that he loves those lions and tigers. He and his family have bred 15 generations of big cats. They’re tame. They’re loving. They’re pets, really. So is that okay? We have to decide that for ourselves.
And how about the clowns? the acrobats? the tight rope walkers? Where will they work? Will lion taming skills transfer to the education field? or maybe a sword swallower could transfer those knife skills to a five-star restaurant? Could the ringmaster become a marketing executive?
Or maybe a job in a different circus? Circus Maximus. not a circus! Cirque de Soleil. not really a circus, either. UniverSoul Circus and Big Apple Circus are still around, but in the Washington, D. C. area and New York City, respectively. So. . .new careers for some who have only known circus life for six generations.
Clowns hold the Meaning of Life. They show us when to laugh at ourselves and when to cry, when to lighten the mood with a joke and when to be still, when to climb out of a car with our friends and when to keep driving down that Highway of Life.
We’ll always have clowns. Now we’ll have to look harder to see them.