Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Juggler

There are three balls on the table in front of you.  One is red, another blue.  The last of the three is green and green is your favorite color.  The green one is heaviest though, and it has a texture that is unpleasant: slimy and unkempt.

The red ball is the lightest of the three and it’s the one that takes the least amount of effort to keep in the air.  Easy to keep track of, controllable, malleable, fitting: the qualities that readily come to mind. It’s a pity, you think, that the ball is so far out of your reach on the table.

Blue.  It’s a nice color.  It’s bright, eager to please, friendly.  It’s simple.  It doesn’t take much to manage.  It’s fun, thoughtless; it’s not tricky.  But blue doesn’t make sense to you when you throw it in the air.  It shifts on the wind easily and falls quicker than the other two: hard to balance. 

It would be so pleasant, really, if you could just pick up all three and throw them into the air and watch them flick from hand to hand like bean bags or bowling pins.  Or even chainsaws like those most specialized in the dangers of coordination and entertainment.

Or: what if they were the same size and weight and texture and density but retained their colors?  It would be dazzling to see!  To watch as three balls spin through the air like a prism reflecting and refracting light as it rotates through the sunlit world of grass, sky, and brick. The colors of the world make it even more difficult to choose which ball you will throw into the breezy day, into the afternoon of springtime.

There are other factors for you too, of course.  You start thinking about gravity and inertia and the way that surface area interacts with wind currents and how the directionality of pressure keeps everything in motion, keeps everything volatile.

The blue ball rolls into the green one and you feel like they are talking about your hands.  You wonder what else they could possibly have in common other than the touch of your fingers or the gentle toss of the air.  Still, they stay on the table, touching, their boundaries connected and showing no intention of separation. 

The red ball stays in its place, up there at the top of the table.  It’s like the ball is watching, observing, and you think: of course!  Of course that’s what would happen!  The red one is quieter, calmer than the other two.  When it spins through the air it does so quickly, more readily than the others.  It falls faster too.  It flies higher, but plummets faster than green or blue and that’s why you can’t toss all three at once. 

Blue and green drift apart from one another on the table and you snatch the green one up and throw it up as high as you can.  You hope it goes into the sky forever because you won’t ever have to see it again.  You pray for it to go far, far away and just as you’re saying ‘amen’ the ball comes crashing back to the table, scattering red and blue into the grass.

The grass. Now red and blue are saturated in green, surrounded by wispy blades that cut you deep, and you are certain that green will come rushing out of your skin as soon as you pick red and blue up from the ground.
But you need to get them back to the table somehow, right?  So you pick them up and green does not ooze from your pores or spread from your fingertips.  You roll blue and red in your hands and mash them together as if it would be easier for purple and green to juggle up and down.

You know it won’t be easier to juggle with two balls because nobody is impressed when you throw balls up and down and absently catch them in your hands.  No, your audience expects spectacle, expects impressive feats of concentration and skill.  Your audience expects you to amaze them, and until you figure out the ball you need most you will never be much of an entertainer.

But, still, you try.  You attempt. 

You’re figuring it out.

All three balls are back on the table and red and green somehow meet up and shine like Christmas while blue rolls around the outer edge and keeps your eyes glued to the movement, to the tension.  You hope it doesn’t fall of the table because the blue ball is one of your favorites.

But, you think, if the blue ball fell to the ground, where piles of bricks and spots of grass have scattered all around, you would only have to pick between the other two.

So you watch the ball kiss the edge of the table and hop off and disappear over the edge while red and green part ways and say hello to the palms of your hands.  The green one is heavier and more comforting in your grip, but you like the way the red one flits between your fingers.  You toss the green one up first and when it hits your hand again you begin to bleed like you’ve been pummeled with spikes or thorns or needles and you drop the ball onto the table, screaming and yelling that it hurts, it hurts.  And when you cry, the green ball rolls over toward your hand you suddenly stop bleeding.  You pick green back up and you think that everything is okay.

And then you throw red up in to the air and it floats higher and falls faster than green and you wonder why everything is best with red and how it is simultaneously the worst.  You think about polarization when the ball falls back into your hand and pins you to the table.

You think about polarization, about highs and lows and hot and cold and yes and no and all three balls somehow find their ways back to the center of the table and begin to converse.

Where you found the balls is irrelevant.
What you know about them is immaterial.
Who they belonged to last doesn’t matter.
When they were last used is extraneous.

How you feel about them…

How you feel about them is really all that counts.

And when you think about each of them together, you cannot decide if you’re being selfish or good-willed.

Hopefully, you think, you’ve fallen somewhere in between.



  1. I'm intrigued by this post of yours! I cannot claim to know your intent, for that would be presumptuous; to claim that, as an "outsider," I could ever fully understand what phsyo-philosophical processes lead to this discourse.

    I CAN, however, share with you how I reacted, and what thoughts it inspired in MY mind:

    Perhaps it is that the colors represent different motivations you have for yourself (or that humanity has in general). They could be social, educational, mental, spiritual, or anything in between. In any case, there seems to be a lingering sense of fragmentation of being, where the author feels frustrated by the idea of balancing all of these aspects of his or herself, the concept of "putting on a spectacle" for others.

    Despite the frustration, however, the author seems to have the intuitive sense that these "balls" that he/she must juggle are all, for the time being, necessary parts of his or her present human experience: the "red" of quiet passions, the airy "blue" of dreams and ambitions, and the mucky, sticky "green" of hardship and pitfalls.

    Indeed they do converse! there is no sorrow without joy, no knowing love without fear, and no discovery without risk,

    Thank you for this wonderfully unique piece of writing, Josh. Keep it up!


  2. I couldn't agree more with the previous comment, keep up that wonderful writing my dear.

    The balance theme of this piece really resonated with me, thus I felt the need to comment.

    Next spin on this piece that I request: billiards balls. A lot more color and a lot more directions for movement. Plus, what can the white ball and the 8 ball represent? Last, stripes versus colors? Is one more whole than the other?

    Thoughts for you to ponder, baby boi.