REWARD OF EFFORT
Why I Still Suck
In the years after I first learned to juggle, my juggling took the form
a mild compulsion. The sight of any collection of three or more roughly
fist size objects (fruit in a bowl, eggs in a basket, porcelain figurines
on display...) simply required that they be juggled (at least briefly).
In those days I wasn't practicing so much as satiating my habit, scratching
an itch so to speak. I entertained no notion of improving.
The shear novelty of keeping the basic three ball pattern (what I later
learned is referred to as a 'cascade') going, was sufficient ends to my
aspirations at the time. I did learn a handful of very simple tricks,
by default as it were. Also during that time frame, I received a
set of cheap juggling clubs and learned to do the cascade with them as
well. Things continued on that way - me juggling as opportunities
presented themselves, seeking to impress whoever happened to be in the
vicinity, and my audience steadfastly refusing to be awe struck beyond
the point of mild amusement, and for only the briefest span of time - all
through my high school years.
All that changed, when a juggling club was founded at the junior college
I was attending. I joined the club in it's second year of existence.
This was my first encounter with serious jugglers. They were not
in the least impressed with what I brought to the party. They wanted
to see tricks. Then they wanted to see more tricks and better tricks
and more better tricks. Even after learning a new trick, it was not
enough to merely perform it successfully, one was expected to learn to
perform it well. Slowly the concept began to seep through the cracks
of my scull, that juggling was an open ended proposition, a road without
end and one I had not traveled very far on.
It was a great time for my juggling. The senior club members, at
great personal sacrifice, taught me to pass clubs. I was also putting
in solid time (by amateur standards), over an hour nearly every day.
It was then that I made my acquaintance with the Rochester Juggling Club.
Through the RJC I first encountered some of that pure magic that elevates
juggling from pastime to art form. I met the MossMan and I attended
my first JUGGLE-IN. I acquired a set
of decent clubs (Todd Smith's) and I manufactured my own juggling balls
(by poking holes in old tennis balls and filling them with thirteen pennies
Tragedy struck when I awoke one morning and found myself in boot camp.
I made an effort to keep up with my juggling during my NAVY years.
The high point was juggling on the beach at Club Med. But alas, the
shear effort of will required to see the days through without doing mortal
damage to oneself or others (the NAVY had thrust me into closer company
than I should have otherwise kept, with men who did each) left no reserve
for the pursuit of leisurely distractions. Coming out of the military,
my repertoire was at an ebb.
In the years that followed I applied myself to my juggling spasmodically.
I would practice faithfully five to ten hours a week for a month or two
and then not touch it at all for six months. One problem was the
weather. Juggling clubs are outside toys, and the long Rochester
winters presented a real obstacle. I rejoined the RJC which met at
the local rec. center (permitting indoor club passing) but club meetings
were held only twice a month. While a student at RIT, I actually
spent one quarter juggling three times a week with the MossMan. Subsequently
however, I rarely found the time for my juggling while I was taking classes.
The lack of ready and available partners to pass with as well as the rough
weather caused me to turn my primary focus from clubs back to balls.
Lightweight juggling balls or beanbags can be practiced indoors, a few
tricks require juggling from my knees, and others are prohibited altogether,
but quite a bit can be accomplished in a very small area and a ten foot
ceiling. Once I gained some small measure of proficiency with four
balls, I decided I was ready to learn five. I was wrong (I've been
working on five for ten years now, and I still can't keep it going indefinitely).
Then in the fall of 96 I got religion. I put in two hours a day,
five days a week for three months. For the first time since before
I joined the NAVY, I learned new tricks. Not only was I learning
new tricks but I was starting to put a bit of polish on the some of the
ones I had been doing for years. Regrettably, I've not had that kind
of dedication since. A month or two has been known to slip by juggle
free, and when I pick it up again it's agony for a while, until I get back
in form. For the most part I've been staying on top of my game in
the new millennium.