Juggling Could Be Your Next Growing Edge
by Duncan Boutwell
Sep 03, 2013 | 1472 views | 0 0 comments | 319 319 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My few skills have earned a living, and saved money fixing things myself. I became a mechanic, a carpenter, a plumber, a house painter, an electrician and a school teacher. I have three college degrees. That didn’t leave much time for hobbies like hunting, fishing, or even gardening.

Nothing but work really holds my interest. I like to read, play the piano, and tinker with computers. I despise television, don’t like sports, and belong to no organizations. Until I got too old, I rode a motorcycle cross-country. The same for airplanes; I once had a pilot’s license.

My kids are grown and gone, farther away than I can easily drive. I look around for something that will be a new growing edge. This time, I have been learning to juggle.

The column today is about finding a new growing edge for people who find themselves “at loose ends.” I bought three juggling balls and a manual for ten dollars.

And I learned an important secret: you will always perform exactly the way you practice.

I already knew that any skill took practice. A lot of hours practicing piano got me to a recital, and some praise from my teacher. I was an old goat among young kids, but no one seemed to mind. That was my growing edge for a couple of years.

I don’t know why I hadn’t learned that secret before. Now I have spent thirty minutes learning what is called in the art of juggling, the “basic throw.” I will advance no farther until I have truly mastered it. Here’s how:

First, stand up in any comfortable, well-lit place. Hold one of what you will be juggling in the hand you throw with. Let’s call it a ball; it could be almost anything, except maybe raw eggs.

Second, use some imagination. Create for yourself an invisible wall directly in front of you, just out of reach. Or use a real wall. Either defines your work area. Now for the basic throw.

Keep your arm straight down to your elbow, then straight ahead, reaching for the wall. Your hand is open and cupping. Keep your fingers out of the way. Elbow straight down. Don’t bend your elbow or your wrist. Ready?

Using a tiny, sudden burst of energy from your shoulder, “pop” the ball straight up to eye level, so that it returns to your hand without your moving it. You should see that at the top of its travel, the ball isn’t turning. Or the egg.

Mastering that, you might also learn something about yourself, like how you learn something, how well you can concentrate and how long before you give up. As my grandfather used to say, “Let’s see what you’re made of.”

I’m up to two or three successes per session. But the greatest success of all is that it has provided me a new growing edge. It might work for you too.

Who knows? You might even want to take it on the road.
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