Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Balance", by Nik Wallenda with David Ritz

I said at the beginning of this year that I wanted to read more.

That’s kind of been an epic fail; however, it isn’t something to be totally depressed over either.

The last time that I bought a book at an airport book store was last summer (2012) in Anchorage, Alaska.

Sure, I’ve heard of things such as and, but I just thought it would be cool to buy a book – to read on the plane – on something that was unique that happened in that region.

That book was titled, “The Spill”, and was about the Exxon Valdez oil spill from March 1989.

(As a side note, I’ve always been a current events, history, sports and biography type of bookreader.)

Last Friday, December 12, I picked up Nik Wallenda’s “Balance:  A Story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line” at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

I was flying to Raleigh-Durham where Waverly met me to help her drive home from her first semester at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I had quickly forgotten watching Wallenda’s walk across a gorge near the Grand Canyon online less than six months ago.  (If you read the Wikipedia entry on Wallenda, you’ll see there’s a little bit of a debate.)

There’s a certain amount of excellent history in the book of Wallenda’s famous family in the circus and with high-wire performances.

It wasn’t enough to bore you, and there was a certain period of time in the family’s history that the life of the circus caused many personal problems in the lives of Nik’s grandparents and great-grandparents.

Yet beyond the great Wallenda name, family itself is clearly portrayed as being tantamount to the most recent Wallenda, Nik.

It is an interesting, yet breezy read, especially relating to his relationship with his wife, Erendira.

It openly speaks about how a controlling spirit was a major challenge in their marriage at one point.

And through it, he shared something that resonated with me about my faith.

He wrote, “We tell people that we’re born-again Christians, and we are.  But being born-again isn’t a one-time thing.  We’re continually being reborn with new insights about our struggles and behavior.  God is always revealing Himself to us, always opening windows and doors that shed new light.

I believe this, but it is often hard to articulate this to people that I know this succinctly.

He also talked a lot about ego.  Obviously, to accomplish all that he has, his comes in mega-doses compared to mine.

I really, really either don’t have much of one myself or I suppress it very well.  Maybe a little of both.

There are things that I enjoy doing well – writing and announcing, among other things – and for me to do them, there’s a certain amount of ego that I must possess to accomplish them.

Yet, to over-sell or over-hype myself are just things that I won’t do – and I’m turned off by people who do.  That, to me, is an unhealthy ego.

As far as race announcing goes, for example, I receive many, many kind compliments on my abilities and God-given talent of knowing what to say right at the right time.

Wallenda addressed it this way:  “My ego-driven vanity is not going to disappear.  I can’t wish it away and I can’t entirely pray it away.  But can I accept it without indulging it?  Can I say, “Hey, I’m a human being.  Human beings, mired in insecurity and assaulted by uncertainty, look for all sorts of validation.  There’s nothing wrong with it – as long as I don’t ego-trip myself to a spiritual death; as long as I realize that my spiritual growth, set against my high-profile career, is always going to be a work in progress; as long I continue to do that spiritual work.”

Well, I don’t have a high-profile career.  And all of my announcing gigs aren’t necessarily high profile.  Maybe to the event producers, they are.

Actually, I won’t take many of them if offered.  I have a certain style that I like and there are certain roles that I believe that I would have to compromise it – and I won’t do that.

I just like to say this, “I like to think that I’m in the top ten in Texas.”

Here’s the catch, though:  It is just that there might only be a little more than 10 that do as much as I do.

Beyond that, Wallenda’s book, ghost written by David Ritz, is just a good enjoyable read of a little more than 200 pages – recapping an interesting, yet non-drama filled life -- that can be tackled in a couple of hours.

Let me know if you’d like to borrow it.  - Jon

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