Life Lessons from a Slackliner

Slackliner Andy Lewis, who was featured at Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012 in the film Sketchy Andy, found global fame when he danced on a slackline during Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime show in February of 2012. This led Lewis, who lives—and plays—in the desert town of Moab, Utah, to being invited by Madonna to join her latest world tour.

In spite of the life-changing opportunities presented by the Material Girl’s offer, he turned her down. Why? For a man who regularly balances on a piece of webbing hundreds, if not a thousand, feet off the ground, maybe it’s no surprise that he wants to avoid the imbalance to his life that would come with such a tour. As he puts it, “Real life was pulling me in a direction away from me."

In this video and Andy’s own notes below, he explains his rationale for a decision that some might find strange, but there’s nothing sketchy in his reasoning. In fact, there’s real wisdom in is his subtle reminder to be true to ourselves:

Even though I was dressed in a toga, the amount of energy given to the sport of slacklining through the 30 seconds of the half time show was insane. The world of slacklining was waiting for its chance to show its face, and I will be thankful and appreciate the chance Madonna gave me forever. Five years ago, I never thought I'd be writing: I love you Madonna. She invited me to her show, showed me how you pull it off, and told me to live my dreams. Together with a group of friends, we all got to be a part of the Half Time Show. The single largest viewed show in the history of television, and I got to slackline front stage center and get kissed by Madonna.

The idea of the world tour was always in the background. Would I be the person who could do it? Could I have the stamina? Could I make the time? Over months, I had to mull it over. A chance at the big time. A chance of maybe making music. Playing guitar LIVE with Madonna. Creating a slackline piece and choreographing. Highlining, fire, swinging from ropes. I honestly could have probably convinced Madonna to let me do some crazy shit. Learning to dance and being a professional dancer. I mean I had so many opportunities that would arise from the tour it would be ridiculous. But I would have to travel for a year, be away from home, my girlfriend, my friends, fresh air, open space, my projects, silence, my jumps, my bed... and for the year of the tour, it would all be sacrificed for hotels, planes, buses, massive crowds, culture, fame, waiting, working, travel, contacts and a large sum of money each and every week. Because I was to sacrifice the freedom I would have for an entire year, I would need it to be "worth it." The next day, I woke up and was pitched the offer, a retarded amount of money with a list of benefits a few arms long and VIP status everywhere…a few days later, I flew back to Moab to live the slacklife.

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