I’ve been juggling for about five years now. I’m not that great at it but I enjoy it. I do get some curious looks however. I guess a woman my age isn’t the sort most people expect to see juggling.
Leonardo da Vinci was an avid juggler. He believed it balanced both the body and the mind. Being ambidextrous, he may have had a slight advantage over me. Still, I have my reasons for sticking with it. And some of them actually have to do with writing:
Juggling is one of the few things I do (along with practicing the violin) that doesn’t involve words. Juggling is a classic example of the type of ‘wordless recreation’ Dorothea Brand talks about in her book, Becoming A Writer: ‘If you want to stimulate yourself in writing, amuse yourself in wordless ways.’
The soothing repetitive rhythm of juggling is like movement meditation. It frees my subconscious to explore plot ideas and ponder creative solutions to story problems.
Other wordless activities include knitting, gardening, cooking, painting, solitaire, even housework. The trick is not to let your wordless activity become a way to avoid writing.
Juggling, especially learning a new pattern, gets me in touch with my ‘beginners mind’ – something Natalie Goldberg discusses in her book, Writing Down the Bones. ‘Beginners mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write.’
Juggling reminds me that success isn’t all (or even mostly!) about talent. No matter how bad I am at something to start with, I will always improve if I work at it.
After sitting at a desk for much of the day, juggling is a welcome bit of exercise and especially helps loosen my shoulders.
Juggling in front of others gives me practice dealing with performance anxiety and, in an indirect way, improves my presentation skills as an author.
Other reasons I juggle:
It’s fun. It makes me feel like a kid.
It’s something I can share with my son.
I’ve always enjoyed learning new skills.
I feel great satisfaction mastering a difficult pattern.
Juggling warms me up when I’m cold.
Juggling relaxes me.
Bottom line: it just plain feels good.
If you want to see why I love juggling so much, check out this video of my all time juggling hero, Chris Bliss. www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNssOKZr9dc