Friday, January 4, 2013

The art of juggling


As a child I was always fascinated by the Juggler. I would hold my breath as my mind would tell "Be ready to see gravity at work", but this interesting character seemed to have mystical powers. At least over those balls. I wished I had those powers. 

As I grew up I started to have a similar admiration for people who could handle with a zillion unfinished tasks on their plates. Well the feeling actually shifted from sheer disbelief, to accusing them of being irresponsible and callous, to a slow realisation that this is indeed the truth of life. There is no escaping the juggling and each one of can only strive to get as good as we can. But it took a long time to cross over to reality. I kept struggling to keep things in control and to be on the top of everything. Along the way I started picking up things that conformed to my beliefs. 

So when I came across these words in Shiv Khera's book 'You can win', "Unfinished tasks are like holes in a bucket. They drain your limited source of energy" I felt I had been vindicated. Here was a wise man saying what I have always known. Movies like 'Ocean Eleven' and 'The Italian Job' became my favourites. I would plan, simulate and be ready with a Plan A,B and C ready for everything. 

I wish, it had continued that way but I graduated, joined my job, settled into a relationship and life kept throwing balls of different colour at me. Soon it was becoming difficult to keep all of them in air. And I reacted with more rigour. I needed help and started trying out anything that promised redemption. From techniques like Pomodoro and GTD  to a hundred tools and apps that claimed they could help. As I met with varying success, I kept moving from a state of denial (it's just not possible) to ecstatic optimism (this finally seems to work!!).

It was a slow realisation that things you wish to happen do not happen as quickly as you want them to. You can not always finish one thing and move on to the next. Neither can you by any means have control of all the variables that control your world. And I thus started on the path of learning the 'art of juggling'.

Everyday I continued to see master jugglers who seemed to have perfected the art while there were others who seemed to have a secret pact with fate. Things just worked for them. But either ways they were far happier. 

As someone so fascinated with jugglers and claiming to study the art of juggling, it should have been evident long ago but I needed my deja vu moment. Not long ago, a friend was trying to calm me down over an planning related argument and tried explaining the term 'Last responsible moment'. He said, "I worry too much.." and a decision needs to be made at the LRP. I was not too surprised when I traced it back to 'Alistair Cockburn', a familiar name in the geekland I live since the past few years. 

It's the slight twist of wrist as the master juggler throws the next ball into the air, that makes the difference. Or may be the trick is know the right time to do it. Should have been obvious to me but nevertheless I was happy as if I had finally figured out the secret sauce. This may be another false start in my eagerness to master the art of juggling. But nevertheless, I need to try it out. Wish me luck.

PS: Dedicated to all the master jugglers I have met so far. Most of them natural jugglers who can't explain how they do it :)