The last time I saw a circus goat. She was walking across a narrow plank three meters off the ground. She was not at all sure of her footing and her gold-fringed caparison was slipping indecently off to one side. She did it all led by a shrill circus announcer in sequins who bribed her with treats after every wobbly step.
In this circus there were no tigers or lions, but there was, at least, a hapless goat. Visiting one weekday morning I found her grazing on a field in La Boca where the circus tent was staked in the mud usually reserved for pick-up football matches. She nibbled delicately at the few sprigs of grass that hadn’t been trampled. She was on a chain, but you could go up and pet her with impunity. She just kept nibbling. It occurred to me that it’s a lot easier to keep a goat than a tiger.
The entire scene — the goat standing in for a tiger, the mud and the tent — seemed important for reasons I could not fathom. I just turned them over in my mind as if they might hold some meaning I could not yet guess. Perhaps a piece of this chaotic universe would fall into place if I gave it time.
A friend pointed out to me the other day that I am always seeking these “little epiphanies.” Knowing what he said to be true, perhaps I’ll tattoo it on my arm. My life is an endless chase after these little epiphanies where something, seemingly insignificant, becomes immensely important to me. The sacred disguised as the profane.
I am convinced that we are mostly blind, that we do not see even the simplest features of our world as they truly are. It is as if we are all dressed up as tawdry circus performers under a sordid tent before a listless audience; we forget that we are capable of soaring through the air, of making great sacrifices, of heroic love.
We toil away inside the tent so firmly convinced that our world is one of shrill voices, unwarranted thrashings, and meager treats. If it weren’t for the little epiphanies, we wouldn’t know any different.
Epiphanies come too few and far between but at least they give us a glimpse from time to time of the sacred world unfolding outside the flaps of our tattered tent.