Juggling and miscellany

First, a musing about juggling, brought to my attention by my justly esteemed colleague and friend, Peter M. Ball (who knows I love juggling). It's from Seth Godin, whose name is NOT the same as mine. He writes:
Two truths about juggling

1. Throwing is more important than catching. If you're good at throwing, the catching takes care of itself. Emergency response is overrated compared to emergency avoidance.

2. Juggling is about dropping. The entire magic of witnessing a juggler has to do with the risk of something being dropped. If there is no risk of dropping, juggling is actually sort of boring. Perfection is overrated, particularly if it keeps you from trying things that are interesting.

Hence the tricky part--you want to ship in a way that (as much as you can) avoids failure, but when failure comes, moving forward is more effective than panic or blame.

This post gives me plenty to think about. First, yes, these are golden words: Emergency response is overrated compared to emergency avoidance. We who are or have been involved in emergency management or self-defense (or both, like me) know this as a cosmic truth, a foundation truth, the very core of our beings. It is, in every way, indisputably better to avoid an emergency than to have it at your throat, snarling and slavering and going for your very artery. Have a clear idea about what you want to accomplish, do your research about what could go wrong (and use your imagination to figure out a few new ones), minimize both the likelihood of things going wrong and the severity of the effects should they do so, and keep an eye on how it's all going. This is risk management, and it's useful for juggling, writing, and driving to the supermarket.

The second point is sort of the opposite of the first one, isn't it? And yet they're inseparable, like yin and yang. Because no matter how well you prepare, no matter how much you lower the risk, you can never eliminate it. The trick — for the writer, the musician, the SES volunteer, the lion-tamer — is to maintain a certain strength of purpose and an optimism that lets you adapt and overcome when things go wrong. When you drop the balls. When you receive your thousandth rejection. When things outside your control change the choices you thought you had.

I don't actually agree that perfection is overrated. There's a beauty in something perfect, or nearly perfect, that is good for the soul. However, there is also beauty in the courage of a flawed attempt, in persistence, in recovery, in the slow journey toward perfection.

Juggling is a terrific metaphor for all this, and it's a fantastic way to keep your brain going, or to unstick it, when the writing isn't maybe going so well. Trust me. Juggle. And think about risk management and the glory of the imperfect journey.

In other news, boingboing posted a piece on a beer theme park that is (a) causing me to add the spot to my Must See Before I Die list, and (b) better than the theme park's own actual site. Go look. Marvels, wonders, beer! (I could even be persuaded to drink a wheat beer while there, and that is by no means my favorite sort.)


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Houston Dunleavy said...

Perfection is not so much over-rated, as impossible to achieve: it's no less worth perusing for that though!


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