For centuries juggling has been popular. In every culture and in every time period, there have been jugglers who entertained people by the seemingly effortless tossing of miscellaneous objects into the air. What has been the enduring appeal of throwing knives, clubs, balls, rings and torches into the air? Perhaps the appeal comes from the desire of every human to be able to manipulate multiple priorities at one time.

There is so much one can learn from the process of juggling. Juggling is a metaphor for life. Everyone struggles to keep everything up in the air. Between classes, homework, social activities, meetings, jobs, and the need for entertainment, there is a bunch of stuff to juggle. There are always several important things to do and choices must be made. It seems like something is always up in the air.

Learning to juggle is like growing up. The best way to learn how to juggle is to begin with one ball and to master its flight pattern. This is like a baby who has just been born. He only thinks of one thing, food. A baby has no responsibilities and his existence is carefree. But then the child goes to kindergarten and suddenly another ball is thrown into the mix. Now the child must think about school. For years he learns to handle this new responsibility. Then when the child turns 16, another ball which needs to be juggled is tossed in his direction in the form of a car. Later, a job needs to be juggled along with a dating relationship. By the time the typical person hits adulthood, he or she may be juggling a dozen different priorities. Life is the delicate interweaving of multiple responsibilities.

Jugglers learn to perform amazing tricks by breaking the trick down into its smallest parts, and working on each aspect of the trick until it is flawless. No one wakes up one day juggling seven balls. It requires time, effort, and lots of practice. Learning to handle life is the same. The more balls you are juggling, the more discipline and concentration is required. You can achieve the impossible by breaking it up into bite size pieces.

All too often, the pattern falls apart. Drops happen. Everyone has dropped the ball at some time in life. Perhaps it was the missed meeting, the forgotten paper, or the lack of study for a test; everyone has made mistakes. But juggling offers a great example for those who drop. If you drop, pick up the ball and try again. Jugglers say, "If you are not dropping, you are not learning anything new." This is because a drop shows that the juggler is pushing the limits of his ability. A pattern without drops is a pattern the juggler is comfortable with and he is not learning anything. Remember, there is no great reward without great risks. At times, you may drop a ball, but pick it back up and appreciate the fact that you are challenging yourself. Push the envelope of your skill level. If you are not making mistakes, you may not be learning anything. Upper level classes are hard and thus easier to make mistakes in, but who wants to stay in General Education Classes forever? Everyone drops the ball occasionally; it is important to pick the ball back up and to keep trying.

There is a feeling of utter satisfaction that comes when one is juggling five balls. It is an achievement comparable to graduating. Some things in life only come through an investment of time. If it was handed to you on a silver platter it would be worthless. There is no way to cheat when learning how to juggle. You will only be as good as the amount of time you practice. Remember, there are no great rewards without great effort.

A juggling pattern is a thing of beauty because it is organized and structured. Yet there are an infinite number of variations to every pattern. Strive to make your life organized, but make time for variety.

[Daniel King is a juggler who has traveled to over 20 countries using his juggling skills to tell people about Jesus.]

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