Juggling: The Art of Throwing (and Catching) Objects – Part 1

During one of the many rainy days of my childhood that I was denied to roam free, I found my hyperactive mind going crazy. It was rumbling with ideas that I had to wait in order to attempt. Naturally, I had to look for other things to keep myself busy.

While cleaning up my room I stumbled upon a couple tennis balls. I put the papers and things that I wanted to keep into boxes or bags and pushed them aside. My attention returned to the tennis balls that I had found when I added another.

None of them matched. Each of them had become discolored and faded in their own way. Two of them were smaller than the other, which made me wonder if the larger was in charge of telling the others what to do.

The thought struck of picking them up and throwing them into the air. I knew how to juggle. Two tennis balls was a simple task; nothing to it. Then, while throwing them around, still looking for something more to help ease my crazy mind, I had the idea of adding the third tennis ball to the mixture. I had seen it done before. It was possible.

So, going over the technical aspects in my mind, I worked out the figure eight that I would need to learn in order to keep the flow going smoothly. Using just the two balls alone, I started tossing them back and forth in a manner that would allow me to gain the speed that I would need to add the third.

My mind wrapped around the idea of juggling like a leather glove on a hand during a summer afternoon. I picked up the third ball and began practicing with all three.

Though I had hoped it would be so easy that I would be juggling all three by the end of the day, it wasn’t. As with anything else, the skills that it required had to be learned and practiced. I put the third ball back down and began juggling only two, in one hand.

After some hours of practice, I had come up with my own routine of bouncing the balls off of my bedroom wall. The time that it took for the ball to leave my hand and return to me was just enough time for me to prepare myself to throw the ball that I had in hand. Speed came naturally and before long, I was bouncing both tennis balls off of the wall beside my bed in a continuous series. I was juggling.

I would switch it up every now and again. I’d bounce the balls off of the wall when I thought I needed the extra time to prepare myself, then return to simply tossing them into the air above my head. I was surprised to realize what I had learned in such a short time, but I was saddened when I realized that I was only able to juggle two of the tennis balls in my right hand alone. It was obvious that I needed more practice.

So, I went over the steps that I had accomplished with my right hand and taught them to my left. Before long, I was juggling two tennis balls using either hand, randomly bouncing them off of the wall in my bedroom with a smile on my face.

Of course, that smile disappeared when my mother came back to my bedroom to gripe about the elephants parading up and down the hallway. I grimaced and deflated my happiness. I sat down on the edge of my bed and stared at those tennis balls. Though they had gotten me into trouble, I couldn’t just forget about them.

Into the night, I sat and stood while I practiced. I was unable to use the wall as a prop to help me, but I had already learned enough and gained enough speed that it wasn’t too important.

I sat down and wrote a little about my juggling curiosity when my arms got tired of throwing and catching the tennis balls. Then, I stood back up to practice some more, silently throwing the balls into the air.

The following morning I woke to see the sun brightly shining through the flag that I had chosen to use as a curtain. My bedroom was nearly as bright as nature. It was sunny and warm; a great day to grab my bicycle and charge for the door. It was also a great day to practice my juggling.

I began juggling again, perfecting the techniques that I had learned just the day before. I was a little rusty to begin with, but within an hour or two I picked up quite a bit.

My mother returned to my bedroom after hearing that herd of elephants in the hallway again. She asked me what I was doing that caused so much thunder in the rest of the house, and I replied by showing her that I was able to juggle two tennis balls in one hand. Then, I switched hands. Though she wasn’t completely against my newly learned skill, I don’t remember her saying much of anything before she closed the door, other than asking that I stop throwing them at the wall. — Sure. No problem. I’ll just wait a little while before I do it again, then claim that my childish mind forgot.

I went back to juggling shortly after she closed the door. Sometime there after, I picked up the third ball and began practicing with it, too. I’m sure that my mother made a return trip, but I don’t remember the details.

Over the course of the next two days, I had been yelled at many times to get my butt out of the house. Of course, I remained inside where it was nice and cool, where I was able to practice juggling without the fear of losing one of my tennis balls to the drainage ditch just down the hill from the house we lived in.

By the end of the week I had been yelled at for staying inside quite a few times, and a few more times for throwing the tennis balls against the wall. I managed to figure out the third ball and was proudly able to display the three-ball juggling, though.

Starting out by myself, I switched it up to gain practice with two balls in one hand, then I would switch hands before going back to juggling all three. With time, others who had noticed me juggling would stop for a moment to offer encouragement. I was happy that I was able to even out the responsibility of the three balls and make them equals.

Growing and learning, as anyone else, I put juggling aside and only practiced when there was absolutely nothing else to do. The goal of juggling three tennis balls I had reached in a matter of four or five days, and I lost interest in it once I had reached my accomplishment. I moved on to other things. Of course, it never left entirely.

Years had passed before I finally came up with the idea of buying a set of tennis balls that matched. Until that point, I would simply grab any tennis ball or another object that was small and light enough for me to toss around. After getting the aluminum tin that came stacked with three tennis balls, I would reach for it each time someone questioned my ability to juggle.

The idea of juggling has always been with me. It’s something that I know how to do, and though I spent quite a while away from it, I was able to pick up those balls and objects and toss them around like I had never set them down.


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