I love this quote from my teacher, Tal Ben-Shahar, “learn to fail or fail to learn.” This weekend, I decided to apply it to something that really doesn’t matter if I fail or not. So I decided to spend just 5-minutes a day and learn how to juggle. That’s right; I said juggle. As in balls in the air.
A few years ago as part of my job I attended a master class in juggling. I even bought a set of three juggling balls a few days later because I wanted to learn. I am appreciative to have them ($5.99, in case anyone is interested). Prior to this I had tried to juggle other things (like rolled up socks), but the weight wasn’t right and this made being consistent with the height of each throw a problem. The juggling balls are the just the right weight. I learned to hold two balls in one hand and one in the other, and get used to throwing two balls back and forth; just holding onto the third ball. I got pretty good at this… and then put the balls away. For a few years.
On Saturday, March 15, I took them out again when I decided to spend 5 minutes a day for the next month learning to juggle. I started where I left off: throw two, hold one. Then I practiced throwing two, throw one, without paying attention to whether or not I caught them all. Surprisingly, I could do this sometimes. Before Saturday’s practice was over, I was able to throw four times, which meant I could throw all three balls and catch at least three of them. It was a start! And I have to admit, I spent 10 minutes Saturday on my studies
Yesterday morning (Sunday, March 16) after I warmed up, I was actually able to throw more than 10 times in a row! 10 times consecutively! Without dropping any! I was amazed at my progress! I know the things at play are allowing time for breaks (it’s important to let ideas – and muscle memory – percolate), not being so hard on myself when I can’t do as much as I think I should be able to do, and keeping a positive attitude, which allows for my ability to learn new things to remain open. Did you know that when we’re criticized, the part of our brain that learns actually shuts down? It’s an interesting thought, don’t you think?
Today I spent time juggling, and I didn’t do as well as yesterday… and that’s okay. Some days will be better than others. This is part of the learning to fail or failing to learn idea.
I did have to chuckle yesterday. Someone I’m friends with on Facebook asked, Answer this “awesome” people….”What’s the one thing you can do today that will give you a “SMILE” on your face at the end of the day?” Share what immediately comes to mind… So I responded: Learning to juggle. It’s an intentional “Learn to fail or fail to learn” story. She responded, Thank you Lori, “intentional” is the key. I got the biggest “ah ha” the other day about “juggling my balls up in the air.” My “ah ha” was that… balls bounce! If I was to drop one, it’s ok because it will not break and it will bounce up again for me to grab on to when I “choose” to. It’s all good! Thanks for sharing.
It was then that I realized that she thought I was sharing juggling as a metaphor, not as a literal activity! So I wrote, Actually, these juggling balls are more like hacky sacks, so they don’t bounce!… and they don’t break, either!! so it’s all good. Followed by, I should say that I am literally learning how to juggle, as in, real balls in the air; it’s not an expression! And one of my former colleagues used to say that we’re juggling all kinds of things all the time, and the key is to figure out which things will break when we drop them and which ones will bounce… and that you want to drop the ones that will bounce! So same idea.
We use juggling so often as a metaphor for what’s going on in our lives, that when I was sharing about it on its own merit it was mistaken for a metaphor. Perhaps that in and of itself is an example of learn to fail or fail to learn! And sharing what my former colleague’s philosophy of juggling is fits into the same vein as well…
I’ll keep learning to juggle. Both literally and metaphorically.