Feb 092013
 

As I wrote a while back, I’ve been practicing juggling, the noble art of keeping as many balls in the air as possible. And as such it’s quite a good metaphor for modern life, with work, hobbies, friends, sleep, family and whatnot, all clamoring for our attention.

You probably have to be Dutch to understand what this picture has to do with the post...

You probably have to be Dutch to understand what this picture has to do with the post…

The best metaphor however comes not from actually keeping all these balls up, throwing them through the air before catching them again, only to once again get them airborne.

This month I gave myself the challenge to savor my food (instead of wolfing it down, ready to go to the next thing in life, the next ball that has to be kept up). And though I’m finding it very very hard to actually keep my full attention with my food all the time, I am enjoying my meals quite a bit more.

And as a side benefit, I’m also being more in the moment at other times. Reading my book without worrying about the dishes. Doing the dishes without wishing I was reading my book. You get the drift.

So back to juggling…

There I found the perfect example of what happens when you’re not focusing on just one thing…

Every once and awhile (ok, very very often) it happens that you don’t manage to catch a ball. And for some reason as soon as you drop a first, the other two (or three) are bound to follow it. No worries there, part of the learning process. What’s interesting is the retrieval of the balls.

Yesterday I was at a really great electro-latin party. Great people, good atmosphere. But what really stuck with me was this one song, a mix of Manu Chao’s “King of the bongo” and Nirvana’s “Smells like teen spirit”. Being able to head-bang in a groovy latin style was definitely something I had never done before…
The ones I have bounce. Meaning that they very quickly are scattered all through the room if you don’t get them within the very short time in which they are still bouncing within an arms-length from myself.

Except… That doesn’t work. Trying to grab three bouncing balls means focusing on three moving objects. Meaning that I’m not focusing on any of them. And I don’t actually catch a single one. All three get away, forcing a full round through the room to retrieve them.

What works much better is catching one. And once I have that, get the next. And then the next. The first is easy, as it is still within easy reach. The second takes a single step. The third means walking to a corner. But that still beats having to walk to three different corners as I missed them all in my first frantic grab.

Less multitasking, more mindfulness. It’s easier to grab your balls that way.

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