Steve Jobs famously said in his Stanford graduation speech:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
I had such an epiphany today.
I taught myself how to juggle while I was in high school, and I became hooked/obsessed pretty quickly. At one point, I even considered going to clown college down in Sarasota, but my dad quickly put an end to such thoughts.
I then went to college, where I had lots of time to practice and teach my roommates and fellow dorm residents how to juggle. I even entered a talent show my senior year where I was upstaged by two 10-year old country fiddle players who were phenomenal. Perhaps they were just being kind, but they couldn’t seem to get enough of my juggling.
From there, I then went to grad school, and while there, I started a juggling club at the local YMCA:
I’m not sure how many people, if any, even signed up for it, but it did lead to an opportunity to appear on a local Pittsburgh TV show for a segment on juggling.
After grad school, I got married (I just recently wrote about how we met), and we started our merry life together.
After being married one year, I decided to go back to school to become a college teacher. Four years later I graduated and started my career as a college professor at Villanova.
Over those years, our family grew, and we eventually became a family of five, with three boys. Once the boys were a bit older, my wife also went back to school to become an early childhood teacher.
At some point during those early years of parenthood, one of our friends got wind of my love of juggling and made me a clown outfit. I called myself Quincy the Clown, and I would perform at birthday parties for friends and relatives.
Fast forward to the present time, and we are in the midst of a pandemic. One of the consequences of the pandemic was that all schools in Pennsylvania were closed.
All of these events – learning how to juggle, teaching a juggling class, appearing on TV, getting married, going back to school, juggling for kids, my wife going back to school, a global pandemic – led to what you see in the photo at the top of this post.
That’s a picture of me juggling in our kitchen for my wife’s preschool class using Zoom. Friday is show and tell day, and a juggler was what my wife brought for show and tell.
Looking backward, such a moment would have never been possible if I hadn’t taught myself how to juggle, gained some confidence from teaching others to juggle and appearing on TV, married a woman who would eventually become a preschool teacher, gone back to school to become a college professor with its incredibly flexible schedule, and if there had not been a global pandemic which led to my wife teaching her class online using Zoom.
So Steve Jobs was right (no surprise there), you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only do so looking backward.
Who would have thought that 45 years after teaching myself to juggle, I would be performing for a bunch of four-year-olds as part of show and tell during a global pandemic, all done through the magic of technology?