Juggling Isn’t the Best Metaphor

Why is it that every time I sit down to write, my nose starts running? I mean, I’ve had allergies for almost 40 years, so sneezing, being stuffed up, and blowing my nose are nothing new. This is a different phenomenon. After I drag myself away from my Facebook and Instagram feeds (neither of which engenders nasal issues, though they sometimes activate my tear ducts), wrestle my laptop from my 13-year-old son, make it clear to my 8-year-old son that he’s going to have to attend to his own emotional needs for roughly the next 37 to 46 minutes while I compose a blog post, pet the cat for a minute, and/or get a fresh cup of tea, it rarely fails that just as I get a fresh Word document opened that my nose decides to do its best impression of a hirsute gentleman in a heat wave. Drip, drip, sniff. Drip, drip, sniff.

But isn’t that the way LIFE tends to be? Don’t we often end up having to pay attention to the loudest, most attention-grabbing, nuisance tasks, attending to those in descending order of greatest severity to least? Which puts many people in a position of placing their most pleasurable activities far at the bottom of a constantly morphing to-do list. Which is also why I don’t love the metaphor of juggling when it comes to handling all of one’s, ahem, balls. I get the traditional idea that the juggling metaphor is trying to communicate: keeping everything in play, not letting anything drop, dealing with the one thing that’s coming straight for your face, etc. But what is also happening is that you’re constantly shoving things away from yourself in such a way that will immediately bring them right straight back at you. By design! That’s the whole point, in fact; otherwise it’s throwing, not juggling.

While it’s lovely to watched a talented juggler wing all manner of objects so high up you think there’s no way they’ll ever be able to catch them in time to send them skyward again, I just can’t keep going with that as my mental image for handling the myriad things I need and want and have committed to doing. I need a new paradigm, a new architype, a new metaphor. I’m tossing out the balance beam metaphor, too, along with the tightrope one as well. I’m considering dumping the path that forks in the middle in the wood so you have to choose which to take, except that I really like being in the woods, so that one’ll get a reprieve for now.

Why am I thinking about this at all? Glad you asked. I joined a business group near the beginning of the year with the express purpose of making forward progress on my memoir. What memoir? I’m sorry you need to ask – I know I haven’t done a great job of promoting it. Why haven’t I? It’s been stuck in Stucksville for a goodly while (we might be approaching the half-decade mark). But I really WANT to commit to it in a way that I’m advancing it towards publication on a weekly (if not daily) basis.

To that end, the business group I chose this go ‘round is phenomenal – it’s April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle’s Sunday Society and, no, that’s not an affiliate link. I couldn’t be happier with my choice – every call, every activity, is packed with valuable information on how to bring creative projects and businesses to life. In fact, there’s SO much that I have barely had time to make a dent in listening to the replays of the live calls she did prior to when I joined. I also have yet to implement many of the strategies she so abundantly shares. This is my doing and no fault at all of the group, who is available in a Facebook Group at all hours to answer many varied and sundry queries from any member who needs an assist.

The problem is that I haven’t prioritized the memoir. I also haven’t been prioritizing really important things, like sleeping and eating well and moving and basic self-care. The shameful truth? I’ve been juggling them all for so long that I seem to have all but lost the ability to do one of my favorite things: read books. (Just for fun, here are a few other balls I’ve been juggling: joining an accountability group, playing along with Rachael Maddox’s My Pleasure Practice on Instagram, working my regular full time job, trying to find ways to amuse the boys during their summer break, planning vacations, reading blogs, attending to the family’s financial wellbeing and healthcare needs… And laundry. Always the damn laundry. Which reminds me that I have a load that needs to get into the dryer before I go to bed tonight.)

Did you catch that? I kind of flew right past it but it’s really, really important:

I can’t read books right now.

One of my very oldest sources of solace and excitement but I can’t do it. It’s not for lack of trying – I open a book at least once a day. I manage a paragraph, maybe a page, but to just sit down and read? Can’t do it. It’s a sign of depression creeping in (again, my old friend) and I’m glad I can recognize it easier now but that’s not the same as being able to get over it any quicker. Because depression seems to be the ultimate shapeshifter, showing up here as one thing and there as another, never choosing a forever face.

I’ve been working on this post on and off since I got home from work yesterday and I realized just now, as it approaches bedtime, that I don’t know whether I have a suitable metaphor to substitute for juggling. Or balancing. Or journeying through the woods. That’s alright, I suppose. I’d like to have something perfectly neat and tidy to offer up in place of those. Like how life is like overnight refrigerator oats – a funky texture fiesta (thanks, Kyddryn) at first but just right after a good night’s rest? Hmm, nah. I think I’ll need to sleep on that one.

Maybe tomorrow’s sunrise will bring me some inspiration.