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Saved by the Dr. Bell


jugglingI just thought I would put in a starter post regarding juggling. I first got interested in juggling when I was in grade school. I remember the moment wanted to juggle: I was in 8 years old and I was watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers was interviewing a 12 year old boy who taught himself how to juggle. He was performing a very basic 3 ball juggle pattern. I decided, for some reason, that I was going to teach myself.

I remember practicing with apples.

Why apples? I think because we had a lot of them in Vermont and we lived next to a farm with apple trees. I remember bruising a lot of apples. I would throw two apples in the air and drop them. Then I would throw them in the air and drop them. I would then throw them in the air and almost catch them and then drop them. This went on for a long time.

I do not know where my patience came from. I believe the answer lies in my environment. In 1978 I lived in Norwich Vermont, population under 4,000, in a house built in 1812. We had a black and white TV and got 2 stations, PBS and NBC. We lived on a dirt road surrounded by dairy farms and old folks. So you get the picture, there wasn’t much else to do. So I threw apples in the air and tried to catch them.

After many many months I remember I had established the ability to throw two balls and catch them, AND do that in a circular pattern. I came to school with two apples in my lunch bag and showed a few friends at lunch time. I distinctly remember Charles saying, “That’s not juggling. Juggling is with three balls.”

I went home dejected.

I went back to the orchard and got three apples.

It was another year before I could juggle in the standard three ball crossing pattern.

By 6th grade I could do other tricks: under the leg, behind the back, even catch a ball on the back of my neck.  Only after I went to college did I try doing machete knives and flaming torches.  (my mother would not have approved).

The point of this simple story is simple. Practice is an art of patience. It can be mind-bogglingly boring. It needs to be done with almost no expectations. It also needs to be done with no other distractions. No TV, no VCR, tape cassette, Walkman, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray, Atari, Colecovision, Sega, Playstation 3, or XBox.

As a parent, allow your child to be bored. When they say, "I'm bored!" Great! Remember that this is the first step towards creativity and accomplishment. Your job as parent is not to entertain them, but to push them from that point to do something different, and maybe even extraordinary.