Let’s ponder the road not taken. We all have them and that doesn’t have to be a realization fraught with regret — it’s just a simple reality.
At work the other day we had a brief discussion over the fact there was a circus performing in a neighboring town.
I told one co-worker, “Here’s you chance. You can jump in and run away with the circus when they pull out of town.”
Admit it, we’ve all thought about it.
The circus has a certain intrigue for young and old. We’ve been exposed to them for a long time.
Google “circus movies” and you find a long list.
The Marx Brothers had a circus movie. Some feature certain types of acts, others circus stars, yet others just use the setting for a horror movie.
There’s a song from a Broadway musical from the ‘80s called “Join the Circus.” The musical was Barnum, a family name synonymous with circus.
Even though the popularity of the circus is fading fast, I bet you have thought about it.
In fact, the co-worker I mentioned earlier sounded sincerely disappointed that, at this point in life, it wasn’t something she could give a second thought. And it would be a second thought.
When she was younger, it later came out, she did indeed think it would be fun to join the circus as some sort of acrobat.
When I was a junior at Creighton, a Jesuit priest — Fr. Weber I believe was his name — traveled through campus one day with what he billed a “three-quarters ring circus.”
It was just him, an assistant and I think a pony or some other small animal. They did a lot of sleight of hand magic tricks, animal tricks and other circus type acts.
I was taking a class that required working on the student newspaper. My assignment that week was to write a review of the “three-quarters ring circus.”
That’s why I interviewed Fr. Weber afterward to get a little more information.
To hear him and his assistant talk was intriguing.
Each year, he had a new assistant. Wouldn’t it be fun to travel the country the next year with the world’s smallest circus?
I mentioned that to my speech teacher a little later on. He said, “Go for it. Apply for the spot.”
Since I have trouble shuffling a deck of cards, I thought I wouldn’t be much good at the card tricks — but still, maybe there would be a chance.
Of course, it was easy for that other teacher to say so. He was a Jesuit, too, probably hadn’t paid room and board or for a drink in years.
I knew deep inside — or even on the surface — it would never happen. If I did, I’d have to perform under an assumed name, as my parents would have disowned me.
Nope, I was practical and not too daring. There was no circus for me.
Much like my co-worker. With a husband, two kids and a “real world” job, I don’t think I have to worry about her not being at work Monday because she jumped in the back of the elephant truck to head to the next stop for the circus.
Swinging on a trapeze would have to wait.
I’m probably exaggerating the real odds of a circus being in my future, but that’s part of the fun of hindsight. You can alter your memories a little. There aren’t too many other real “road not taken” results.
I was accepted into law school, but chose not to go. I’m OK with that. I didn’t spend a summer on a custom harvest crew — don’t you think that sounds like fun? — but again, no problem.
Many times, when we think of the road not traveled, we end it with a thought along the lines of, “That was for when I was young. Those ships have all sailed.”
Right now, I’m much closer to my retirement years than to my “join the circus” years. Retirement’s still a few years away, but now that I think of it, maybe then I could join the circus.
Or the harvest crew.
Or drive an escort car for wide-loads on the highway.
Then again, I think my wife would disown me.