The Problem with Balls…

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to diversify their investments.

Not just with finances, but in other aspects of life, as well. For example, when I was in high school, I never hung out with just one group of friends. For some reason–which I like to credit to an overdevelopment of emotional maturity–I was loath to be identified as “just a brain” or “just a jock” (people who knew me in high school will, of course, laugh at this) or even “just a [religious group affiliation].” Even when it seemed like my very social survival rested upon forming a concrete identity, I just couldn’t choose.

Of course, the problem with this varied lifestyle is that physically (and emotionally), you can only keep juggling so many identities and so many priorities day to day before something drops.

I call it my “three balls” principle. At any given point, I can only be successful at my personal relationships, my education/career–or other”goal of the moment”–or my health, but never all three at once. One of them always has to be on a temporary down-swing, and if I try to juggle more than three at a time, one thing will inevitably drop. Back when I was in school, I would inevitably be either single and flush with cash, or in a great relationship with totally sh*t grades, or I would be broke but happy and healthy… you get the general idea.

Then, when I got married (to the most wonderful person I’ve ever met) and began to see myself in a state of perpetual relationship okay-ness, I started to think, “well heck, I can probably stick this one in my pocket and find another thing to worry about.” But as I quickly found out–after the addition of “the damn book”–you can’t ever just ignore something. Even if it’s great, it still takes up a significant portion of your time and energy. So, in the grand tradition of my circus metaphor, I stopped paying attention to one of the balls for a while and let it drop. My career was going good, marriage was great, and I had a really awesome idea for a new book series. But my health got ignored, and I started to get fat.

Well, that simply wouldn’t do. So at the beginning of this year, I ramped up my efforts and got ripped. But then the BIG MOVE came along, and I was forced to drop another ball. Sadly, this time it was the book that hit the gutter. For weeks, its laid there gathering dust and slime while I scurry around getting carpet cleaning quotes and apply for jobs. And for weeks, I’ve been plagued with the nagging guilt that I’m suffocating my lifelong dream in exchange for a slightly lessened stress level.

Am I justified in acknowledging my limitations and prioritizing the “here and now?” Or, like a two-bit carnie, am I simply lying to myself about how many balls I can handle?

4 thoughts on “The Problem with Balls…

  1. You’ve already been prioritizing as you allow one ball to keep up and another to drop. So, yup, embrace your limitations, set priorities, and then stretch yourself just a bit.

  2. Dude, seriously. Get writing you lazy sloth! (I’m kidding… But only a little). I think you are a little of both. Following, lies my reasoning:

    1) Justified – Reading your post made me realize a similar pattern in my own life. Acknowledging our limitations is crucial to knowing how far we can reasonably push ourselves. We gain an understanding of our strengths, and unfortunately, our weaknesses… (Such as my addiction to gummy worms. I don’t smoke, chew, or really eat much candy. But I love me some pure sugary gummy worm).

    2) Two-bit carnie – accepting our limitations is stupid. If we only identified our strength and weaknesses and played to them, we’d suck. We’d never grow, push ourselves past our limits and find new heights of awesomeness. (True Story).

    So, moral of this rant? Stop crying over spilled balls (hehe), and go kick ass!

      1. I missed my calling… Motivational speaker! I could make millions! But no, I want to be an archaeologist/novelist.

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