When I was twelve, I went into my backyard and taught myself how to juggle.
It wasn’t something I’d thought about doing — I was bored and needed something to do. The only jugglers I remember seeing:
- Steve Martin
- A clown at a third-rate circus
- A guy at a Renaissance festival
I didn’t have the slightest idea how the juggling patterns worked. I tried and failed, repeated as necessary, and didn’t leave the backyard until figuring out the three ball cascade.
Curiosity and tenacity paid off.
When I started writing, I let curiosity and tenacity also be my guide. I traded hours of juggling for hours of writing. I got better. And then I got busy.
College came along. I worked odd jobs to pay for school. I didn’t see friends as much as I wanted. I met an artist; she became my wife. Schedules collided. Everybody I knew had become jugglers of a different kind. It became hard to find time to do all the things I wanted to do. Everything seemed so fast and out of control.
When I taught myself to juggle five things, everything initially seemed so fast and out of control. Through hard work, it became easier. When it became effortless, I started adding tricks into the pattern. Then I moved on to six and seven things.
I looked at my schedules like I looked at juggling. With each new step as a juggler, things seemed to speed up and fly out of control. But I knew if I relaxed and stuck with it, it would become second nature.
When I applied the lessons learned from juggling to my life, everything slowed down.
As long as I relaxed and focused on the things that mattered, there was time to add more items and variations into life’s patterns. I found there was time for school, work, writing, friendships, my wife, and even juggling.
I’ve taught myself a lot of things in my life, and one of the lessons I learned early on is that it’s easier to get better at something when you surround yourself with others doing the same thing.
I became a good juggler in my backyard, but I became a better juggler when I started juggling with others. I became a good writer through long hours of practice, but I became a better writer when I started talking with other writers and editors.
Most of us are trying to juggle a dream, a job, and a life. Most of us feel like somebody has put too many things in our hands and said, “Juggle!” without any instructions on how to keep things in the air.
I know it’s possible to juggle many things at once–I’ve been a juggler for 28 years.
My goal with The Juggling Writer blog is to prove that we’re all jugglers capable of doing more than we ever dreamed.