Juggling for Life: Balance and Letting the Balls Fall

I’ve recently taken up juggling. Perhaps the greatest reason I enjoy it is voiced in the afterword of Gelb’s book “More Balls than Hands“:

Even if you never toss a ball into the air, the juggling metaphor can serve as an inspiring reminder of the secret of life. If other is a one word that expresses that secret? Yes. The word is balance.

Balance is the secret of life, and dynamism—an ever-changing process of adjustment, compensation, and coordination—is the secret of balance. The universe breathes. It juggles. Electrons dance around the nucleus of an atom and galaxies swirl in a pulsating universe. Tides roll in and out, and the sun rises and sets, we laugh and we cry, we are born and we die.

This universal balance is expressed in the ancient Chinese symbol of yin and yang and in the smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (and his wonderful drawing of the Vitruvian man, also known as the Canon of Proportion).. Architecture, music, painting, and poetry all seek to express various dimensions of nature’s balance. In a simple, immediate way, the metaphor and practice of juggling align us with this essential universal rhythm, echoing a pattern that links us with all creation and resonates with our deepest selves.

The principle runs deep enough that Gelb can’t help but wax poetic in the above passage; nonetheless, this is some of what I experience when I take a juggling break from my list of driving priorities. As I let the balls fly and fall, and as I catch them with a loose focus that fixates on the overall system and rhythm rather than attaching to a single ball, I find my body and mind loosen in ways that help the rest of my work. Juggling teaches that as easy as it is to fixate on a single item, grace and success come from a perspective of balance.

Image credit: Leoni Mullett
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