Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Juggle: 1 novel, 2 children, school, work and a flaming chainsaw!

Okay, so there isn't really a flaming chainsaw in this post and even if there were, it would certainly not be featured until the end, so no matter what, you'd have to read the whole post to get to the exciting part anyway.  It made the title sound a lot cooler though, so I hope you'll forgive me if I don't give you the instructions on how to bobble fiery blades of death.  Life can certainly feel like that sometimes though, and while it's only a metaphor, the balancing act required to give due attention to the many needy facets of our lives is often weighed down with the emending catastrophe of missing that perfect catch and throw.
I learned to juggle (the actual circus balls and rings kind) when I worked in a video store in college that got just a few more customers than a hamburger stand at a PETA convention.  I have no idea what possessed me to take up the hobby, other than boredom, but I did and to this day I still can't look at a bowl of fruit quite the same way.  As a metaphor, juggling has been used countless times, but I'd like to give it to you again from the perspective of someone who actually knows how to juggle.
You see, when everything is going as it is supposed to and assuming you have the requisite skill, juggling is rather easy.  There's a fluidity to the motion and the apples, balls, scarves just seem to fly around in perfect ellipses without much thought or effort on the part of the juggler.  That is until one single object goes just the slightest bit awry.  The entire act then changes dramatically from fluid ease to desperate correction.  Every movement has to be shifted to keep the objects flying.  Not too much or too little.  Just enough.  If you're lucky, you're able to get everything centered again and return to the effortless tosses, but more often then not, you're never able to fully recover.  The result.  Bruised apples, broken eggs and in the case of flaming chainsaws...well, you get the idea.
I find that life is often a lot like this, only most of the time we seem to always be in a constant state of adjustment and near failure.  Some people are better jugglers than others and always seem to balance everything with grace and skill.  It's easy to envy those people unless you are a juggler yourself and release how close they are to being in the same mild panic as everybody else.
On the surface I seem to have a lot of balls in the air.  I'm a father, a husband, a firefighter, a paramedic student, and independent author, a blogger, a guy trying to get back in shape, and...I'm sure there's other stuff, but you get the idea.  Most of the time (like anyone I have my moments) I would not appear to be a stressed out kinda guy.  How is that with all the stuff I have going on?  Well, it's not because I'm really good at juggling life, per say.  Usually those people are the highly organized types and that is certainly not me.  So what have I learned that maybe others have not?
The answer goes back to learning how to juggle.  You see, I think most people are afraid of what would happen if they let something fall through the cracks.  They aren't sure what to do, or how they would be able to get things working again.  They are afraid that once one piece falls, the whole act is going to fall apart.  And they are probably right.  But here's the thing.  When you're learning how to juggle, you also learn that you can't possibly keep it up forever.  Either you are going to decide to stop juggling, catch the balls and take a break, or they are going to fall all over the place.  It's not a matter of if, but when.  And when this happens, you simply take that break, or you pick the balls up and start over.  When you're learning to juggle, you do this over and over again.  This is when the metaphor becomes really useful.
If life is a juggling act, than it follows that at some point you have to take a break or accept the fall.  Either way, if you want to continue to be successful and get better at life/juggling, the only choice is to pick the balls back up and start over again.  The great thing is, the more you do this, the better you get, the less you fail and the less you have to start over on anything but your on terms.  It's a matter of perseverance mixed with a healthy dose of acceptance.        
Now first what you do is purchase three, light weight chainsaws, some lighter fluid...


  1. I love this post. As someone who can sort of juggle for real (only actual bean bag juggling balls or oranges - and definitely only three) and juggles like crazy in reality (job, blog, mom...) this post has got me asking how can I apply juggling skills to life? My best juggling moments have been when I zen out, stare straight ahead, and try not to focus on any of the balls - maybe in life that's big picture thinking?

  2. I have actually read a lot of your blog posts in the last hour. I really enjoy what you are doing here. (And as a writer of fantasy novels, I'm enjoying looking at different aspects of that when you go through them in blog post). And truly, I love world-culture building