go do.

Friday, 9 September 2011

When I was twelve, I read a book on juggling. I read it in the summer, lying on my stomach in a rectangle of sun. I went over passages of the book again and again, trying to make them stick in my brain. I eventually put the book down and felt ready to begin. I picked up the oranges (stand-in balls). I started playing circus music inside my head. And then... thump, thump, ‘owch’.
...that was not supposed to happen.
I took a moment and then started again. I fetched the oranges. I hummed the circus tune (a little louder this time). And then... ‘owch’, thump, ‘owch’. Juggling, it turned out, was trickier than it looked on the page. I decided to give up and eat the oranges instead.
Thus ended my brief career as a clown.
I was reminded of this recently, and I think that I probably went about it the wrong way. The way to learn juggling is probably just to juggle. To practice. To physically move your arms: throwing, catching, dropping, picking up, trying again. Learning the theory is part of it, but the real learning is in the doing. It is easy to read the book, but that is not juggling. You can’t call yourself a Juggler if you don’t actually juggle.
I read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse at the start of the summer. There was a description in it of someone who was ‘so brave in thought’ but ‘so timid in life’. And it struck me. I am someone who would prefer to wait until I really fully absolutely understand the ins and outs of things before I act on them. But I wonder if there is a degree of fearfulness in this. Most things that are worth having require a level of risk – the risk of being embarrassed, hurt, wrong – and risk means dancing with the unknown 

I've been thinking about this a lot this summer. I've been thinking about  how I can (and do) wax lyrical about "the beauty of love, friendship, faith, [insert other ideal here]" to my heart's content; I can discuss the theories and philosophies behind them; but if I get stuck there, if I do nothing beyond that ...my words are empty. Life will be empty. Life is something that is learned by doing it, by taking risks. I want to live a life that matters, not one that could have.
Listen to this (Go Do by Jónsi) ...if you want to.
(Pictures from: Leanne Ellis).

1 comment:

  1. Ah! Another Jonsi fan!

    'thus ended my brief career as a clown' - made me laugh. I've done the whole juggling thing, though I haven't quite given up hope yet. I also know exactly what your on about when you talk about wanting to be absolutely certain about something before you do it. Sometimes its all just a leap of faith.

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