If you are my age, you may remember several ventures visiting a local circus. What I remember the most was attending Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I was 9 years old and distinctly remember the smell of animal droppings mixed with the musk of animal smells. Nevertheless, I was excited to see every wild animal paraded by for all to see. I was a small boy and was clueless to what would later become allegations of animal abuse and neglect. However, for a brief moment, I felt I was in Africa seeing not only the greatest show on earth but also a representation of what God put here on earth for us to wonder.
I had to admit I was sad to hear that Ringling Brothers is closing after nearly 150 years of circus acts. I can’t say I blame them. Our world has become more about online and smartphone education rather than seeing eye to eye such magnificent creatures. It’s somewhat as if our ADHD culture claims to be interested in great animals, unusual Redwood trees and paramount cliffs and mountains. Rather we can now see those superimposed or with high graphic resolutions at our local IMAX theater. It seems that our attention span at certain entertainment levels can only be attained for perhaps less than 30 minutes. This is one of the reasons the circus and many other nostalgia acts are shuttering or disappearing.
The circus closure almost reminds me of a scene from the original Disney movie, “Cars.” a scene showed a new interstate created bypassing the local diner that had been a hit for decades and other favorite businesses. The town would eventually die. This also occurred with Ringling. Let’s not forget we used to buy tickets at our local businesses only to be replaced by Ticketmaster, some other mega ticket provider. Also, the ticket price for the circus back then was $3.25. Today’s cost is near $70 per person. Gone are the community arenas where we felt almost ringside to everything replaced by mega sports complexes filled with electronic signs and advertisement plugs at every turn. We have forgotten simplicity in exchange for overstimulation and chaotic entertainment. This is why I will miss the circus. I wanted to see a giraffe. Not like at the zoo where it would stay hidden far away. The circus gave me that one brief glimpse up close and almost real. I won’t ever forget that.
When Ringling Brothers closed, I could only think about what would be next? Our local zoo parks must be next. They are expensive, and people just don’t go like they once did. Have electronic devices become our realism replacement? I hope not, but I must face realities that are closer to a virtual world rather than getting to know and appreciating the real world.