Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Learning to juggle.

Jugglers, I suspect, are made rather than born.

Until someone tells me otherwise, I'd put money on juggling being a skill you acquire over time rather than a talent you produce spontaneously.

Of course the scientist in me recognises that you should never completely discount theories until they've been firmly disproved, and you never know, there might just be a 'Victorian Bernard: The Three-Year-Old Savant Juggler' story waiting to be found in some dusty archive. But, for now, let's accept that the best way to become a juggler is to, well, juggle. Beg, borrow or steal a set of padded juggling balls (known in the trade as 'thuds', since that's what they'll end up doing - on the ground - most of the time) and begin to practice.

However, just as I've already suggested, to begin with most of your time won't be spent juggling. It'll be spent failing.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Time after time, the balls will fail to sail through the air, but flop forlornly to the floor.

The real nub of this process, of course, is how you respond to this lack of success. The way to learn to juggle is simply to continue with your practice. The more you do so, the less you'll fail, and this is one way of dealing with adversity: the 'if you don't first succeed, try, try and try again' school of thought.

Perhaps bouncing back, though, needs to follow a different path sometimes? Maybe you'll discover that, try as you might, you just don't seem to have the aptitude for juggling? In this case, I wonder if it makes more sense to make the sometimes brave decision to move on to something else: tightrope walking perhaps? Or stamp collecting. Or soufflé cooking.

There are at least two big ways to deal with adversity. One is to believe that you'll overcome the problem in time. The other is to take a different route.

I'm sure you'll know which makes sense for you, and when.