Retirement Planning for Senior Citizens| RetyrSmart

Life in Balance
By Helen Fields

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GIRLS might dream of the thrill of the high wire and running away to the circus, so was Tilly any different?

Tilly had walked a tightrope with her father her whole life, or at least as far back as she could remember. It wasn't that she didn't love him - it was just that the older she got, the more she found his expectations unrealistic. He required her to study five hours a day, train for another five, sleep for a minimum of nine. Socialising was an unnecessary luxury, and as for having a boyfriend… Tilly didn't allow herself to even contemplate that one.

Her mother had been the same. Driven, single-minded, ever conscious of the need for perfection. That was why Tilly had no siblings. She was what her mother had referred to as "unexpected". A blip on the radar of her otherwise stunning figure. When you performed in front of hundreds of people, each pair of eyes following your every move, you didn't want to be sucking in your stomach.

It had been fun at times, Tilly accepted that. She had visited countries throughout Europe, known heat and cold, poverty and luxury. There had always been a friendly face to tell a joke, sing a song or entertain. Fellow performers had come and gone from their lives like her brief enrolments at different schools or stays with increasingly distant relatives. Life with the circus was chaotic. And then there was the constant threat that audiences would dwindle.

"It used to be easy," her father would moan. "When I was young we were competing with four television channels, audiences with nowhere to go but the local pub, and if you wanted to share your photographs you needed a camera, film processing and the risk of boring your mates showing them your snaps. Now everything is social media this and mobile that. These people come to our show and they film it. Away it flies on to that internet where every man, woman and child can watch it…"

"…without paying for a single damned ticket!" Tilly would finish.

She chastised herself for her lack of gratitude. How many people knew the thrill of the high wire, could spin through the air certain they would be caught, only to fly off again amidst a backdrop of pulsating light, pounding music and the whoops and cheers of an astounded crowd? But there was fear, too. Not a fear of falling. That would be logical, sensible. It would make her normal.

Tilly was afraid that one day she would fly from one set of hands and just keep going. That she might never come down. That her feet might never walk firmly on the ground, along a well-trodden path. Then they'd arrived in Scotland. ....