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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Book Review: Balance: a story of faith, family, and life on the line

Author: Nik Wallenda with David Ritz
Publisher: Faith Words, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Inspirational

First Lines:

The first things I notice are the dogs. They’re Cairn terriers, like Toto in The Wizard of Oz, like the terriers that Mom and Dad keep as pets, the warm and fuzzy pups that are part of my clown act. I’m a kid in this dream, a little boy on a journey whose destination is unknown...

Goodreads Description:

Nik Wallenda, "King of the High Wire," doesn't know fear. As a seventh generation of the legendary Wallenda family, he grew up performing, entertaining, and pushing the boundaries of gravity and balance. When Nik was four years old, he watched a video from 1978 of his great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, walking between the towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico, stumbling, and falling to his death because of improper rigging. When Nik heard his father quote his great-grandfather-"Life is on the wire, everything else is just waiting"-the words resonated deep within his soul and he vowed to be a hero like Karl Wallenda. Balance is the theme of Nik's life: between his work and family, his faith in God and artistry, his body and soul. It resonates from him when performing and when no one is looking. When walking across Niagara Falls, he prayed aloud the entire time, and to keep his lust for glory and fame in check, Nik returned to the site of his performance the next day and spent three hours cleaning up trash left by the crowd. Nik Wallenda is an entertainer who wants to not only thrill hearts, but to change hearts for Christ. Christ is the balance pole that keeps him from falling.

My Review:

The fascinating story of Nik Wallenda and the Wallenda circus family. Many will recall hearing the story of Karl Wallenda, Nik’s great-grandfather, who fell to his death walking a tight-rope in Puerto Rico with neither tether nor harness. More will be familiar with Nik’s exploits, including his famous walk across Niagara Falls in 2011. 

Always looking for the next big thing in aerial entertainment, Nik regales readers with stories from Wallenda family lore, as well as of his own growth and development as a high-wire performer. More importantly, though, we discover what drives Nik – a solid work ethic learned from his parents and others in the industry, yes; ego, yes; but most importantly, his utter faith in God and his desire to please and glorify his Maker. Wallenda isn’t perfect, but surrounded by good and godly influences, he strives to learn from his mistakes and to self-improve.

No word on how his father feels about the book post-publication. While Nik totally respects and honours his father (who is no doubt a product of his generation), the book leaves no doubt about the man’s need for control. In fact, the book makes no effort to conceal any family scars, but proposes to heal them with honesty and candor.

Favourite Quotes:

p. 8 “I believe that God gives us the power to transform any story from darkness to light.” 

p. 82 “I have lots of doubts. But I’m not going to let any of them get in my way.”

p. 88 “My spiritual mission is simple – stay focused on the positive. Avoid the toxic energy field of negativity.”

p. 98 “Most people work at a fraction of their potential,” says my mentor Chris Ripo. “Even hard workers like you and I might be utilizing 20 or 30 percent of our potential. That means there’s still another 70 percent of untapped territory.”

p. 114 “I can’t stand it when people use Scripture to win an argument. Scripture isn’t a tool to win a debate. Scripture is about deepening your understanding and love of God—not beating down your opponent.” (said by Nik's wife)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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