Plate spinning. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve got a to do list as long as your arm and need to be in 3 places with 3 different people all at the same time.
You don’t know what to prioritise because they all deserve your best, so you feel like they’re all getting your worst.
You’re just about holding it all together but you’re living as if any moment it’s all going to come crashing down.
There are a few things about plate spinning that have helped me (after a lot of fighting it) through a recent (read current) manic season of my life.
- By nature the plates are spinning on top of the little pole; they need to spin quite fast in order to keep them there. So we needn’t be afraid of it. Sometimes life is just harder to keep going smoothly sometimes & that’s ok. It can feel like it’s all a bit out of control but actually it’s pretty sturdy up there.
- In a circus act each plate that’s added to the spinner’s display looks like it’s going to be one too many, but every time he takes it on, gets it going and goes on to add more. The world record incidentally is 108! Often something new can come into our life and we think, “uh oh, this is the one that’s going to break me”, but when it comes to it, we take it on and we cope; we can often spin more at once than we think.
- Professional plate spinners (do they even exist?!) almost always have an assistant. It’s not a game they can play on their own, needing someone to pass the plates. And life? Life is not a game we can play on our own. We might manage up to a certain point but sooner or later we’re not going to have any free hands to pick up any extras, or we’re just going to give up because we haven’t got the confidence to keep going. So find yourself a willing assistant. And when they offer to help, whatever you do, don’t say no. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work! Not only will they share the load and help you pick them up if they crash to the floor, but they’ll encourage you to believe that you can succeed with all you’ve got going on.
- In China they turn plate spinning into an acrobatic performance whereas western plate spinning performers usually present it as a comedy act. Whichever way you lean, whether towards drama and a show of immense skill, or more of a slapstick calamity show, have fun with it. Life is full of serious stuff that we can’t get away from, but we can enjoy the ride. Have a go with some tricks, making each thing you take on more beautiful than it was before; or take on some extra fun ones when you’re tempted to keep things simple by just doing the necessary basics.
And if they all come crashing down like you’re worried they might, so be it. Get your pal to help you pick up the pieces, and give it another go. Often we put so much pressure on ourselves to get everything completely perfect, whereas actually giving life our best shot is enough. And fear of this can freeze us in our tracks instead of having the confidence that we can not only spin the plates we’ve got, but also take on some more and throw in the odd trick to make us and those around us smile.
In the words of my favourite bear’s friend Christopher Robin,
“you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”.