Nik Wallenda opens his autobiographical book with these words: “God is my center. God’s grace is the balancing pole that keeps me from falling into self-obsession and self-deception.” From childhood on, the famed aerialist dreams of walking over Niagara Falls; he eventually does just that.
Nik shares how this dream fuels his desire to do the seemingly impossible: walking over the Niagara Falls. But in 2012, millions of TV viewers watched (and heard him talking to God) as he achieved it. Although this feat remains one of the ultimate accomplishments for Nik, he shares his life story thus far as he faces down abject poverty, countless setbacks, betrayals, and even family opposition before reaching the Falls.
"Throughout this revealing and interesting autobiographical story, Nik reminds readers again and again that without God’s intervention and active participation in his life, he wouldn’t be able to walk any wire, be it high or low, in his own strength."
Go back in time to Nik’s childhood home in Sarasota, Florida, where he recalls their backyard as filled with training gear: poles, posts, and bars that his family, the legendary Wallendas, used as aerialists. At barely two years old, Nik was already captivated by the cable that stood about 24 inches above the ground. He wanted to walk across it just like he had seen his parents do so many times before. After getting up and falling numerous times, he finally reached the other side, sealing the deal for him and his future history. Nik is an aerialist.
Or is he? Nik recounts the first two decades of his life as being extremely stressful ones for him and his family. The circus scene was quickly shrinking, and Nik (along with his talented parents) found it difficult to survive on the little they were making working at shows. Nik instinctively knew what he wanted to do with his life: develop his talents into the world’s finest aerialist ever. But would he be able to make a living doing so? It seemed unlikely. Thus came Nik’s very real fear and trepidation that his lifelong dream would be thwarted due to economic constraints. So Nik found work wherever he could --- and work he did…hard.
Just like his parents, who took odd jobs to support themselves in between circus shows, Nik followed the same path. Eventually, doors here and there opened up to Nik and his family again. Not one to ever give up, Nik kept practicing his art and was always ready to push the envelope and attempt the next impossible feat. Even after disaster struck their family and the grief almost overtook them, in time, Nik and his parents faced their fears of failing (falling) and set out to reclaim the world’s admiration by attempting the same dangerous act.
Nik details his personal life with all its unique ups and downs as a member of a circus family, and as a Wallenda specifically. He describes his family’s triumphs as well as their failings with a welcome transparency. Throughout this revealing and interesting autobiographical story, Nik reminds readers again and again that without God’s intervention and active participation in his life, he wouldn’t be able to walk any wire, be it high or low, in his own strength.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on August 13, 2013