I’ve never been a fan of the circus. My last visit was in the fifth grade. After receiving a good report card, I was treated to a day with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Baily’s Greatest Show on Earth! Gone were the big tents and the weird, sideshow menageries, but the extravagance and festive nature of the circus remained. Well into my circus excursion, however, I found myself disappointed as the clown faces grew scary, the scantily dressed trapeze ladies appeared a bit unnecessary, and don’t get me started on the elephants.
The circus seemed like nothing more than a series of people doing difficult things for artificial applause at their repetitive Ta-Da moments. But with a recent visit to the John and Mable Ringling home and museum in Sarasota, Florida, I had an epiphany. Maybe we all need a bit more Ta-Das and subsequent applause in our lives.
Ringling was nothing more than an entertainer when the circus first gained popularity in the 1890s—before television and other forms of entertainment. At that time, the circus coming to town was a big deal. Hundreds of trains loaded with exotic animals and unusual performers rolled into the fairgrounds to execute their craft under dozens of large tents in front of audience members who likely had never seen such extravagances. The sheer scope of the endeavor had to be impressive. Ta-Da!
Ringling seemed to be motivated to achieve a similar effect with his large home on Sarasota Bay with its Moorish/Gothic design, soaring ceilings, the whimsical effect of the colored glass windows, and the giant red velvet thrones that greeted guests upon their arrival. And then there is the view! For a man who liked to entertain and impress, Ringling certainly didn’t fail with his winter home in Florida. I could picture Ringling or his wife, Mable, walking guests through the house and with each room they entered, stretching an arm high into the air and yelling “Ta-Da!”
Sometimes life gets difficult and even the simplest accomplishments seem worthy of applause or recognition. Dinner on the table—maybe a simple sandwich and chips—and then Ta-Da! Surviving a grueling commute, fighting other humans on the metro or the interstate, and you arrive safely at the office. Ta-Da! Getting that child dressed and to the bus stop on time. Ta-Da! Writing a page of prose when writing a sentence feels challenging. Ta-Da!
Perhaps the power of Ta-Da is in the giving credit for the small accomplishments on the way to creating something huge. Learning about the history of people who demonstrate how “going big” with their life’s endeavors is worthwhile gives me the encouragement to take my little efforts to the next level. In today’s world, it’s easy to feel small and insignificant. But visiting the homes and creations of people who think big inspires me. For them to pursue their crazy dreams is the tangible proof that we can achieve our dreams, too. Going big is possible.
So, whenever you’re in doubt or feeling down, just raise your arms in the air as if you’ve just jumped off a trapeze and shout: “Ta-Da!”