Travel Journal: Cirque Du Soleil

These guys are scary, even without the leather thong and tattoos

I saw my first Cirque Du Soleil performance, Ka, this week in Las Vegas. I managed to find a promotional code on ebay for cheap tickets, and so, in the midst of my dirtbag camping and climbing trip at Red Rock Canyon, I donned a button down shirt, my grown-up pants, and loafers and went to the show. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did not expect to be greeted by ninjas flipping up and down the balconies, I did not expect the stage to dump the actors into an abyss, and I did not expect to feel so compelled to run off and join the circus (or cirque).

It is hard for me to describe what I experienced, except that it was powerful. The salient message seemed to be that there is beauty in everything. The characters express beauty in the light and the dark, in fighting and in dance. In the context of my climbing trips, I was acutely aware of how effortlessly the characters moved. I want to climb with that sort of passion, to display art in movement.  I used to be a fairly accomplished gymnast, have always loved kung fu movies, and feel a strong connection to mythology. So, I feel somewhat predisposed to enjoy this type of athleticism and story telling. Simply put, it rocked my world. I was somewhat surprised to learn that others were affected in a similar way. In fact, when the crowd gave a standing ovation, it took me a moment to understand that everyone in the audience was moved by the performance, regardless of their gymnastics background, or interest in martial arts. Mastery, it seems, is recognized universally. We all relate to passion, beauty, and, of course, ninjas.

My preferred form of acrobatics

This is the basis for my infatuation with rock climbing. Not ninjas – passion. It is my ideal outlet for expression and freedom. I want to experience mastery, to unlock my full potential, to flow between moves instinctively, and to act without doubt or hesitation. I have a friend who is passionate about puzzling, friends who are passionate about art and music, and others who are passionate about God. I believe my desires in rock climbing can be applied universally to all these things. We share the desire to express ourselves, to realize mastery, and to act without hesitation.

The next day, back at Red Rock, several hundred feet up a climb called Levitation 29, I was aware of moments when I moved efficiently and climbed without really thinking. That, to me, is passion, I want to gush about that feeling. It is my raison d’etre. Conversely, I had some valuable moments of frustration, doubt, and fear. The spectrum of emotions provides bounds for the pursuit of mastery, and, no matter how much we practice, our humanity assures us that the journey is never ending.

Wherever you find passion, remember those moments, let them sustain you,

and never forget the ninjas…


About Calvin

Calvin Laatsch guides canyoneering, rock climbing, and mountain biking trips at Zion Adventure Company; he also consults staff and clients alike on Norwegian customs, smooth dance moves, and the latest in dirtbag fashion. Bring your binoculars with you on the Zion Scenic Drive, and there’s a good chance you’ll see Calvin WAY up a wall, testing his mettle in form-fitting jeans.
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