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Balance by Nik Wallenda: Family & Faith

Updated on October 21, 2015
Balance by Nik Wallenda
Balance by Nik Wallenda | Source

A review of Nik Wallenda's astonishing story

Nik Wallenda was only two years old when he started walking on a tightrope in his parents' back yard in Sarasota, Florida. He was simply doing what his parents - circus performers - did. Two years later, when he was four years old, he watched the video of his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fall to his death from a highwire.

Karl and the famous Wallenda family

Karl was seventy three years old when he fell. He was promoting his show - not enough tickets had been sold - and he fell 120 feet; the video still exists and can be seen below.

A very honest, open tale of faith & family

Although I have been fascinated by the Wallenda family since I was child, I was truly surprised and how moving and inspirational this book is. Nik, far from being a conceited celebrity, is a humble and loving man.

He's dedicated to improvement - not just improving his professional life and abilities but also his own self-improvement as human being and his spiritual life.

I was moved to tears

Strangely enough, that wasn't when I was reading about the tragedies that have befallen the Wallenda family. (Seven of the family have been lost in aerialist accidents.) No, it was the man himself, his humility, his faith and his determination to carry on his family's tradition, plus honouring the achievements and the fortitude of his great-grandfather.

From the backyard to the Grand Canyon & Niagara Falls

Nik is well-known now for his stunning feats such as walking a high wire above the Grand Canyon and the Niagara Falls on live television. These, and other fantastic feats are reason enough to read this book plus, of course, the history of the family.

But what really elevates this book is the man himself.

Further reading

The Hartford Circus Fire: Tragedy Under the Big Top (Disaster)
The Hartford Circus Fire: Tragedy Under the Big Top (Disaster)

The circus always seems to be a bittersweet institution to me. Perhaps that's me being fanciful.Yet it does seem that the circus is hit by the most appalling tragedies. This must be the worst in history.

Curiously,the Wallenda troupe were forty feet in the air, performing, when the fire broke out.

 
Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus
Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus

I wrote a full review of this book recently and I recommend it so highly.It reads like a novel and is just as exciting as any fictional book you can imagine but it is an absolutely true story.

Thrilling, moving and completely absorbing.

 

Videos

The video of Karl falling is horrible, but I've included it here. It's not pleasant but there's a good reason why I've decided to show it on this page.

Imagine that your father was killed this way. Would you continue to perform on the high wire? It's a testament to the Wallenda family that they still perform today and whenever the laws allow, they do so without safety equipment.

Today, it is his grandchildren and great grandchildren who are performing. It demonstrates the power of the circus tradition.

Skip it if you wish.

But I do recommend that you watch the others, especially the one where Nik and his mother complete the walk Karl never finished. There's a heart-stopping moment.

Something I learned from the book is that the family attribute this accident to incorrect rigging. I'd thought it was the wind. What a horrifying video. How could the family continue?

The book also talks about the tragedy in the 1960s killed three members of the family when the seven man pyramid fell.

This again typifies the circus tradition of 'the show must go on'. Despite death and serious injury, the remainder of the Wallenda troupe performed on the high wire the night after the accident.

In the next video, Nik and his mother pay tribute to Karl as they complete his unfinished walk. Delilah terrifies me in this but they successfully complete the walk as a tribute.

Below, see a short, but excellent, interview with Nik.

Just looking at the Grand Canyon is scary enough - imagine walking over it. When Nik walked Niagara, the television company insisted he wore a tether for safety. This wasn't the case with the Grand Canyon.

See the video below.

Imagining walking a high wire is almost impossible. Imagining walking over the Niagara Falls is simply terrifying. Nik even talked to TV interviewers during the walk.

Nik Wallenda - Chicago November 2014

Pages from the book

Click thumbnail to view full-size

© 2014 Jackie Jackson

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      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      I lead such a low risk life that I'm unable to watch stunts such as these.