Juggling is Boring [ Tales of The Juggler ]

hermannismThe Juggler was not born The Juggler. He was born uncoordinated, a slobbering ball of skin and muscle and bones. Then he grew, mostly up, and one day opened his eyes to find things that amazed him. Over the years he found many such wonders: fireworks, redwoods, home runs, the smile of a pretty girl, the cloudless night sky. But nothing struck through his pupils with enough force to keep his eyes open blinklessly. Until he discovered juggling.

He vowed to master this playful art. Like most, The Juggler first tried without instruction, juggling in a circular motion as they do in cartoons. The tennis balls went up, somewhat in the right direction, but his hands did not follow the orders his brain barked–throw, feed, catch, throw, feed, catch. He dropped them all, not catching a one, or a two, let alone three. Maybe, he thought, there was more to this.

So he began with the basics. In a book, Juggling for the Complete Klutz, he discovered the Three-Ball Cascade and exclaimed, quite breathlessly, “What a beaut.” Three balls interweaving in harmonious infinity eights. Each had its place, its airtime, its catch, and release.

He spent years perfecting it. Wait, no, he only spent hours. The Three-Ball Cascade is not terribly difficult to learn for someone as talented as The Juggler. By late the first day, he could keep the pattern going in perpetuum with nary a drop. By day two, he was able to juggle with eyes closed, mentally tracking the bean bags as they arced through the air, into his hands, and back again.

And by the third day, he was bored. Bored! How could something that flipped his brights on just two days prior so quickly become boring? Perchance… and I don’t use a word like ‘perchance’ often… he misjudged this devilish diversion?

Like a spinning diabolo on a still string, his love of juggling slowed, tilted, and fell to the side. He stopped juggling altogether for a week, until one day he found his bean bags underneath the bed, next to an empty Red Bull can and his old white sneakers that smelled of tuna fish.

He picked up the beanbags to give them one last round of roundabouts, when the unexpected unexpectedly happened, as it often does. Instead of throwing a three into the cascading pattern, where it typically soared directly beneath the object that was just jettisoned from the other hand, he threw the beanbag OVER the pattern. The bags fell into his hands like before, ready for another toss, so he threw another over the pattern, then the next, and the next, discovering, what he would later learn, the Half Shower. Instantly, his boxed-in brain broke free from all restraints and screamed, “Yes!”

The sudden realization that juggling was more than just one basic pattern, that it was fluid and improvisational, opened his eyes to the awe of this awe-full art. He quickly found himself throwing balls over the pattern, under, through it without releasing them. He tossed the bags straight up instead of over, behind his back instead of in front, in groups of two and three instead of the lonely one.

And the moment he completed his first pirouette–where he flashed all three bags in the air, spun around with a Michael Jackson ‘te-hee’ and caught each bag to resume juggling–he became dizzy and powerful and curious.

“What else can I change?” he thought. He was a man, as some of us are, a man of habits and schedules and daily life patterns. Habits and schedules and daily life patterns that now, thanks to juggling, were as flimsy as a four-year-old’s excuse about a broken vase that left grandma’s ashes scattered across the hardwood.

So The Juggler began experimenting with life, breaking free from whatever routines he could. He drove a different route to work and discovered a new comedy club on 3rd Street. Score. He wore an orange and purple plaid suit to work instead of grey, and the colors made his eyes pop so vividly, Delores from accounting made a pass at him in the elevator. Going up!

Soon everything was fair game. Eating cereal for dinner. Drinking tea on a coffee table. Watching Monday Night Football on Thursday. Using a diminutive porcupine as a hair brush. Hugging cacti. Eating salads. Dancing everywhere. Living.

Now, every time The Juggler holds three balls in his hands, every morning he steps out of bed, anything is possible. The game is just beginning.

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Jonathan Hermann juggles words, balls and small children in Alexandria, Virginia.

Comments 0

  1. I love it. I remember the day when I thought I invented the halfshower. Now my days are filled with practicing 4 or 5 tricks. When i get tired or i reach my limit on practicing one trick, i turn to another and cycle through. This is my idea of circuit training applied to juggling. Love it, and never get bored.


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