The Greatest Show On Earth: Creating wonder and magic out of everyday life.


In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s the “Greatest Show on Earth” captured the imaginations of children and adults. The Ringling Brother’s and Barnum and Bailey Circus captured the imagination of people for over 146 years. The circus made stars of PT Barnum and later made John Ringling a rich man. A visit to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida demonstrates the magnitude of the show and the possibilities of what we can do with our imagination. The museum highlights the fact that imagination alone cannot catapult our dreams without sound business and marketing principles. The “Greatest Show on Earth” was a beautiful mix of both.

The Ringling Circus was like few others. It was a wonder show, the grandest, and best. In it’s grandeur it would have been like entering the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Fantastically costumed people and animals would have struck awe in circus goers. Clown alley would have dazed children and stimulated their imagination beyond measure. Announcers would have encouraged folks to “step right up” as they walked through the midway. There were brightly colored wagons, strange images, and side shows with marvelous sights.

The final destination was the Big Top. There were wonders beyond imagination and magical activity as far as the eye could see. Towns folk transitioned from the plain and ordinary to bright lights and wonder. The doldrums and pain of life was given ease by trapeze artists, lion tamers, clowns, and an array of performers. See this amazing sight. You have never seen this! Suddenly they were taken away to a world of pure imagination like Willy Wonka sung of.


There is something truly magical about taking everyday life and creating wonder around it. There is something deep in us that needs the escape. Something that screams let me out! Our souls long and hope that there is something out there that is out of the ordinary because our ordinary is often so numbing and morbid that we would grow  faint of heart if we thought this is all there is too life.

Yet, there are some extraordinary people. People who grow very tall and people who don’t. There are people who grow very wide and people who don’t grow at all. There are people with extra facial hair and people with extra fingers. There are people who can do amazing tricks and wondrous feats and astound us with their bravery and there are people who don’t.

The wonder and magic of the circus that Barnum & Bailey Circus created is a demonstration of our longing for the extraordinary and our souls need for the wondrous. While we savor and enjoy those who can create magic we must remember that we create magic everyday in our lives. We are all creative beings and use our creativity in ways that we seldom recognize. We create great meals on a budget, make crafts with our kids, solve problems at work that improve efficiency, and use our creativity to get through life.


There is wonder and awe in each of us. There is the opportunity to create magic in our life if we look for it. Sometimes we need the amazement of a performance and to enter a world of imagination so that we can stimulate our creativity. If we stay long enough in the Big Tent we may just come out changed and ready to take our creativity to new heights. What type of wonder would you create if you could join the circus?

Marcy Pedersen


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