10 Reasons I wish more people were like Circus friends

Clowning around with my hubby.

Here’s my interesting fact….I’ve performed and traveled with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus among other circuses. I am so honored to be a part of a special group of people known as Circus. I love them and we are sealed as family in a very special bond. Here are my top 10 reasons why I wish more people were like Circus people.

10. They know how to work hard. — I’ve never met a more hardworking group of people. On the circus you pull your weight or get left behind.

9. They know how to have fun. — The best parties I’ve ever been to have been in the back of the tent or arena. Circus people are fun. They laugh, dance, and really enjoy a good meal. Some of the best BBQ’s I’ve had were on the train tracks in whatever trainyard we were parked in.

8. They are accepting. — You are part of the family no matter your economic, social, religious or ethnic background once you prove you can do numbers 9 and 10. It’s whether or not you can do your job that counts.

7. They pick up where they left off without a pause. — Sometimes a few years will pass before we see a friend from the circus. We work on different tours, some settle down eventually (like we did) but we never stop being friends. Show folk know how to remain friends. I find in town life, if I don’t talk to someone for a few days they wonder if I’m mad at them. To me that’s crazy. I’m busy, working, overwhelmed even, not mad.

6. They jump in and help when they can. — When you travel across the country or even the world with people you learn to lend a hand when it’s needed without asking. You also are sensitive to jumping in when you can really be helpful. You don’t want credit, you just are paying it forward, or backward. You don’t expect paybacks because you may not see that person again for years.

5. They respect their mentors/role models/elders. — Circus folk have a great respect for the incredibly talented people who have gone before them. Performers of today are standing on the shoulders of those who built the Circus. What we do is a legacy we take into the future and pass on to the next generation. We might not say it but it is a sacred trust.

4. They are willing to teach if someone really wants to learn. — I remember my first year working with the show, the children of the circus did a show for the adults. A dog trainer’s daughter wanted to do trapeze, a teeterboard artists’ son wanted to play the drums. No problem. A trapeze artist started mentoring the dog trainer’s daughter and the show’s drummer put sticks in the young Hungarian’s hands. What if we were all willing to share our skills and talents with others instead of worrying about being replaced?

My Ringling Bros Clown College Graduation Picture

3. They are not intimidated by change. — The performers who are on a show travel the world. They may tour with one show for a season or two and move on to another show. Life is a giant jigsaw puzzle and they are not discouraged by having to put it together over and over. They rise to the challenge of change.

2. They make me believe in magic. — When you go to the circus you see amazing feats, hysterical antics, animals and people living together and a community of diverse people working together and bringing smiles to people. It’s magic and it’s real.

  1. They remind me to sparkle. — Living with circus folks you tend to look for more of the sparkle in life. You stand straighter, live bolder and have bigger dreams.

So like e.e. cummings I say ….

Damn everything but the circus!
…damn everything that is grim, dull,
motionless, unrisking, inward turning,
damn everything that won’t get into the circle, that won’t enjoy, that won’t throw its heart into the tension, surprise, fear and delight of the circus, the round
world, the full existence…

Barbara Vogelgesang has been speaking, writing and performing for almost 30 years. She has toured with Ringling Bros. Circus and performed through the US, Canada, and Japan. Barbara and her husband, Jim are the proud parents of 4 children.

“I’m a woman trying to survive in our everyday world by making the ordinary, extraordinary. Come share the adventure with me and keep it real!”