Are you juggling life rather than making time?

Kathy Krugerbalance, find your flow, work-life balance16 Comments

Clown juggling

Busy hey? So much for finding work-life balance or life-life balance. Too many balls up in the air – how many can you possibly catch? How many come falling down, bouncing around your feet, rolling away just out of your reach. You’ll retrieve that ball later, won’t you? If it’s really important.

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to. – Lao Tzu

I learned to juggle when I was supposed to be studying for final school exams – well they might not have been my final exams, but it was definitely during one of the main study weeks, in either Year 11 or 12. Funny how the exams have been forgotten, even the (good) results, but the juggling hasn’t.

I was taught by a guy from school who I wasn’t interested in, or if so only vaguely, and who may have been interested in me, but it’s hazy in my memory.  I’ve even forgotten his name. The juggling is all I really remember. Such a time-wasting thing to do for a normally conscientious student – a circuit-breaker on pre-exam stress, an idle rebellion against the good results that I expected (read put pressure on) myself to deliver.

I remember an afternoon that stretched on lazily, or perhaps it was a morning, maybe most of a day. All that mattered was this trivial skill that I was slowly developing, and the laughter and general sense of frivolity that punctuated time, so that minutes and seconds seemingly refused to tick onwards. It didn’t matter that I dropped lots of balls. I caught lots of balls too (in actual fact they were little soft, rice-filled cloth bags that your fingers squeeze into for better grip and by the end of the afternoon I managed to keep three in the air at one time, for some time at least, so suspending tomorrow and the inevitable exams).

In juggling you suspend time somehow and that’s its allure. You can pretend, as the juggling circus clown does, that life is all just a funny balancing act, that our choices aren’t really about our values, that each ball is equal. But life isn’t just all balls in the air – it’s lived through the balls we choose to catch and the ones we allow to fall to the floor. Sometimes life, time itself,  is suspended in regrets over those balls we let drop when we know we should have tried to catch them, to have held that one ball precious to our chest above all others.

So what does this have to do with Lao Tzu and finding work-life or life-life balance?

Lao Tzu wisely says that when we use time as an excuse, we are really saying ‘No’ to the thing we are avoiding because we are afraid, anxious, stuck in bad habits, imprisoned by our own limiting thoughts, judgements and beliefs or simply because we don’t really value the thing we are saying ‘No’ to. If that’s the case then ‘dropping the ball’ on the thing we don’t value is wise (family responsibilities aside) and catching and holding precious those balls we value is even wiser.

When it comes to following our passions, our purpose, time is no excuse.

It’s safe to say that when Lao Tzu was around life was probably less complicated, in a modern, 24/7, busy, busy, busy kind of way. Although perhaps in terms of the political intrigue of the Imperial Chinese court, cultural and social expectations and weighty philosophical questions it was just a little complex.

Lao Tzu simplified life with his notion of the Tao or Universal Way that we should flow with rather than resisting.

He spoke of letting go in order to become who we are, of finding strength through humility in seeking not to speak but to listen, to master ourselves rather than others, and to stop comparing ourselves with others.

He spoke of patience and persistence: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step’, and of the power of positive thinking and inner contentment regardless.  In other words he was one wise dude (and he said a whole lot more).

Without being a Lao Tzu expert, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been a fan of juggling. Juggling means nothing really gets the attention it deserves – it’s all about the act, rather than the balls themselves. Yes, be adaptable to change to balance the different things and circumstances in our lives, but make choices about what is really important and hold tight those balls.

Stop using time as an excuse not to pursue the things that really count.

We choose what’s important by the time we give it.

Juggling may be a good party trick, but don’t be a clown – it can’t be sustained all your life (says this clown!)

Say yes to what matters, find the time, and ‘find your flow’.

What ‘balls’ in your life would you hold onto and which ones are you just juggling?

Sign block smallPS – Have you entered my 100th post giveway? Enter by 15 June to win two beautiful jewellry pieces (valued at $50)thanks to the lovely Lisa of Zen Designs/Random Acts of Zen. All you have to do is tell me what you love about yourself, and share some loooove.


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Kathy KrugerAre you juggling life rather than making time?

16 Comments on “Are you juggling life rather than making time?”

  1. aparentinglife

    I am a big believer in the importance of making time. Or at least being aware of the need to make time for things rather than just wait for time to appear. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT

  2. Katyberry

    I’m getting better at figuring out which balls matter, and if not saying no to the other balls, I at least don’t sweat it if they get dropped!
    For me, some of the things that don’t matter are some of the boring unessential elements of my job, the state of my house (oh God!), and my individual contribution to school community activities. I do what I can, but some days/weeks/months are harder than others.
    I value my family, my friends and my work as a manager.

  3. becc03

    I love that quote.
    i remember back in my office working days where people would stand around chattering about how they did not have time. I totally get the need to stop and have a chat, to vent and all that, but it always made me think. If you weren’t so busy complaining about it and wasting the time you do have, or saying no to the task as you described, then couldn’t you be using that time to do something that does matter? Or at least get it out of the way so you can spend your attention on the things you do care about.
    I’m not so sure I’m as good in practice at this as I used to be.
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

    1. yinyangmother

      Hi Becc – yes the theory and the practice can be two different things. I say I’m focused on one thing and then find myself distracted by facebook! Nowdays is even worse with both office cooler conversations and on-line ones to distract us.

  4. Braja Patnaik

    Hi, I found your blog through your guest post in Tinybuddha.

    When we say we do not have time for something in life, it means we are saying no to it. And it never really registers in our mind that in our subconscious we are rejecting the idea. Wonderful insight indeed.

    Also, your site is amazing. I love the design and layout. If time permits I will savor your other posts in detail. Thanks.

    1. yinyangmother

      Wow – thank you for your lovely comment Braja and please feel free to explore and subscribe to my newsletter and/or connect on FB/Twitter if you like. Thanks so much for connecting.

  5. Martine@themodernparent

    Great post. I wrote about finding time for ‘me’ this week as I believe it is one of those balls everyone needs to hold tight but many let fall away.

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