When “The Greatest Showman” came out in 2017, our daughter was five years old and especially impressed by a song that was sung with perfectly choreographed aerial acrobatics. When that same song came on during the credits after the film, her hands shot up, ready to dance, so there was no choice, really. I picked her up high, spun her around, and realised suddenly that the two of us had just twirled our way into a moment that would haunt me with happiness forever after.
It was in her eyes, and it caught me by surprise: She was flying. She was a real acrobat. My shoulders were rings, my arms were ropes, and she was soaring effortlessly with her hands spread wide, feeling the wind rush through her fingers. For the rest of the song, I lifted and spun my little five year old trapeze artist every way I could imagine, just to catch a few more glimpses of the faraway smile in those shimmering eyes. Finally, I caught her eyes with mine while I held her above my head, spinning together—the room blurring around us for a few glorious moments—and then the song was finished. It was high time little five year olds were in bed. But before she slept, she looked me in the eye and said: “I was an acrobat.” And she was.
I don’t know how my life and achievements will be measured by others, and I don’t much care. For me, I will always consider one of my happiest moments to be the night my body became the rings and ropes for a real acrobat.