I'd sit up high in Madison Square Garden where the music carried best and even close my eyes, lulled and thrilled, knowing what was happening: the lions, the showgirls, the wire-walking, the tumbling and strutting, the human cannon-shots, and diverse buffoonery. Consciously or unconsciously, I took it as a metaphor for how to wake up in the morning and live with stamina and faith and joy — how to pick yourself up when you fall, hide your limp, take a punch, yet drive yourself on, and do what you're best at with verve and panache, being at home anywhere, west or east. I didn't see much Old World black humor among these circus folk. They'd been through a war but believed at least in their work, in children, in craft. I've never blamed God for what people do, and maybe they didn't either. And I've never understood why bond salesmen are paid more than fire-swallowers, slack-wire dancers, and human cannonballs. What they accomplish is rarer and gives more pleasure.

Edward Hoagland, Compass Points