Learning to juggle has multiplied my diligence in all areas of my life. I spend my time with friends and family in more fulfilling ways. I can more easily relate whatever I’m learning in school to something fun.
Juggling is one of the oldest forms of entertainment… it’s just very carefully throwing objects up in the air and catching them repeatedly. So how could it have such a strong impact on my life?
Because before juggling, the central theme of my life was school… before family, before friends, before myself, was always school. When I went to college, I no longer had my family to prod me along, and nor did anyone else.
The idea that motivation is a superpower is one of the most ubiquitous and pervasive cultural memes that I have encountered across members of this entire generation.
Motivation is NOT a superpower; in fact, I’d argue that the superpower here is the capacity to KEEP one’s internal motivation after getting through college.
The real death of motivation is when the product of YEARS of work is simply hypothetical. We bust our asses week after week, month after month, and year after year, and far too often the most tangible results of our efforts are in the form of letters, numbers, or hopefully a very important piece of paper.
When was the last time you poured hours and hours into a school project and emerged with the sense that you were capable of doing something that you weren’t before you did that project?
When was the last true sense of achievement from having pushed your own limits and abilities?
For some (such as me), the grades just stopped feeling validating. They were hypothetical. Hours and hours of work, and for what?
And what happens if you screw up? What happens if, despite so many hours of work, some grave error becomes a monolithic testament to your ineptitude and the worthlessness of your effort?
But see, that’s how you learn how to juggle: you drop the ball. Over and over again. Many, many, many times. You drop it… and after a while, you don’t drop it as much. You drop it less and less as time goes on.
I juggle because the effort that I put into juggling has rewards that are tangible. If I put enough time into learning a trick, then I am actually capable of doing something that I could not do before. While the practical application is negligible, it’s also not hypothetical.
It’s exciting. After years and years of effort being poured into the ethereal intellectual maelstrom we call education and academia, I now have something to remind me irrevocably that my effort produces results.
There’s no interpersonal argument involved about worth… I know it’s just a parlor trick, but I learned it and did it just because I wanted to. Imagine what I can do with better reasons?
Every type of effort (like studying crap that I don’t care for) feels much easier after a good juggling session. If I don’t feel like learning a new trick, I just let my arms flow through more familiar patterns and meditate.
Ever been “in the zone”?
I argue that having an easily accessible activity that you can use to “zone out” and has a tangible result is essential to mental health. It should be something that leaves you with something to show for your time spent doing it, especially because you flowed through it meditatively.
And do it regularly.
I can’t stress the result part of this enough. Activities like reading are great, but unless what you read inspires you to write, draw, or make something besides conversation that ceases to exist once forgotten.
The only way to adjust your productive output is to make things. Juggling has inspired me to start writing again, and even try my hand at drawing and music, simply because it reminded me that I can put my effort into something and have something tangible come out.
Many of us may ~know~ this implicitly, that we can learn anything if we just throw enough effort at it… but trust me, it’s a lot easier to live by it when you actually do it.