Learning to juggle

End of Term 3

Last week I ran away to join the circus. At least I could have.  I was learning to juggle.  You know, with those multi-coloured juggling balls you get in your Christmas stocking, when your mum doesn’t know what else to give you.   I say learning to juggle, but really failing to juggle was a more accurate description.

Three coloured juggling balls
Multicoloured juggling balls from my Christmas stocking








David, one of my fellow students, juggles four balls with consummate ease, while walking and talking.  He’s thirty years my junior. Normally we interact as equals, but on juggling day I felt every one of those years in the hand-eye co-ordination gap between us.   He was having a go at teaching us how to juggle.  So there we were, ten adults in a small room and a basket full of variegated balls.  He thought we’d learn more quickly if we each had three balls to start with.  I don’t know what the people in the office below thought, as balls fell to the ground with an annoying regularity.  It’s depressing when you’re trying to imagine yourself as a nubile acrobat and juggler whose life revolves round the Big Top, yet you can’t get your left hand to throw a ball accurately so your right hand can reliably catch it.

David didn’t lose heart however.  He suggested we jettison one of the balls, once we’d got the feel of holding three at a time, and continue with two, to see if we could throw and catch, throw and catch, and find a rhythm that worked for each of us.  Sure enough after 10 minutes I became more confident, and the thump on the floor followed less frequently.  And then I started to put one foot in front of the other as I threw, somehow feeling able to navigate past other jugglers, while I walked up and down the room.

In the end my arms became tired and I stopped.  Enough for today.  But I had learned that my left arm throw was less accurate than my right and that I tended to grab at the ball I was trying to catch because I was scared to let it fall. Most importantly, I found I was able to move my feet while my arms were doing something else, a critical part of being able to teach.  So I haven’t yet run away to the circus.  But I’m sewing sequins onto my costume just in case.

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