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Nik Wallenda and his 58-year-old mother, Delilah, on 10-story high wire in San Juan, Puerto Rico on June 4, 2011. Photo by Shelley Ross


I just witnessed the most extraordinary event: not just for its daredevil -“ishness”  or athletic feat of balancing on a wire strung between two hotels ten stories above the ground in the light wind and rain.  I certainly have an excruciating respect for what that takes.

The extraordinary event that took place this weekend, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a mother and son celebrating their lives together and the lives of all their generations past. They were both steeped in  the knowledge  passed down,  with DNA of high performance and courage.

Filmed for Discovery Channel’s “Life on a Wire,”  Nik Wallenda had set out to honor his great grandfather, the Great Karl Wallenda who fell ten stories  to his death in the same location on March 22, 1978 at age 73.  That tragedy, captured back then on live TV, was said to have been caused not by his age, but by winds and bad rigging.

That fatal fall is why Nik, now 32, and his father, Terry design, prepare and construct every inch of rigging themselves.  And why Terry oversees nearly a dozen riggers on the ground who have to pull the wire more taught in places, let it slacken in others.  While those walking on the wire must have a zen-like concentration,  it is quite a different dance on the ground as various members of the support team are instructed to move stabilizing ropes to the left or the right.  The rest of us are left to watch and nurse our white knuckles.  Wallendas never perform with a safety net. Read the rest of this entry »