The ‘this is impossible’ stage and beyond

cat with sock

Source: Day 71 - stoner cat and his cat mint sock by Flickr user Viewoftheworld. (Wikimedia Commons)

I just got an update on a friend’s progress learning how to juggle 3 balls. This is what he said:

i balled up some socks and took a stab at juggling last night

i think im past the ‘this is impossible’ stage and into the ‘i can see how this might work’ part

i can get a few tosses back and forth. the bed idea is a good one, except that my cat was running away with the socks no matter where i dropped them

That’s the first time I’ve seen someone put a name to the process, and, wow, that says it all. That’s what juggling is all about. That’s why it’s so satisfying and addictive and impressive: because it starts out as an impossibility.

If you want to learn to juggle, you’re first going to experience the “this is impossible” stage. Then, if you put in the hours and days of practice, you will reach the “I can see how this might work” part.

Actually, it is temporarily impossible. When you first start learning to juggle, you will not be able to understand how it’s possible because initially it won’t be. Your muscles will need to be trained and developed to execute the proper juggling technique, make consistent throws and catches. Your muscles won’t be able to do this until you train them.

Visual and Muscle Memory

Same thing with your mind. You mentally won’t be able to process the juggling pattern at first. It’s simply not yet part of your visual memory. It will take some time, possibly several hours over a few practice sessions, before things finally start to click. And then it’s lots more work to get juggling ingrained in your muscle memory.

What comes next? Eventually, it becomes automatic.

So, it goes from impossible (you can’t figure it out know matter how hard you think about it) to automatic (you can do it without even thinking).

Learning how to juggle 3 balls is a beautiful process. Speaking of cats, those of you interested in incorporating cats into your juggling act might appreciate this video of the Flying Karamazov Brothers at around 3:25. You might as well check out the start of the video, too, to experience JUGGLING = RHYTHM = MUSIC.

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