Everything in My Life Has Led to This Moment

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 aΒ  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?

59 thoughts on “Everything in My Life Has Led to This Moment

  1. That looks like fun. You are a man of many talents. It is great the dots have connected so well. I tried the Tiger Woods golf ball juggling routine but never perfected it.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You are quite skilled at juggling. I juggle a bit, but I’m not on your level. Those kids don’t seem too engaged with Quincy the Clownβ€”better not give up your day job.🀣

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m hoping to spend more time juggling when I retire.
      I think those kids were waiting patiently for their balloon animal – I wasn’t the fastest guy in the world. It is a quick way to lose your audience though!
      And I’m glad my dad talked me out of clown college πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, SnapDragon! It was one of those posts where the idea just came to me and then it was fun to pull it all together. My plan is to do a lot of juggling when I retire, but you never know!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your analogy is a perfect representation of the concept that Jobs had alluded to. How could you ever look forward and connect those dots? I used to think that my previous work gave me a modicum of fame, but I can’t compete with your tv news segment. I did notice the balloon in the picture of Quincy the Clown. Are there some balloon animal skills you are keeping from us?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks, Brad.
      those TV news people wisely made sure it was a non-speaking part…
      and yes, part of my repertoire was doing balloon animals. Actually, that and juggling was my whole schtick…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. trust me, if you saw my balloon animals…

        there was a guy around here who was one of the best balloon animal artists in the country. He also set the record for inflating the most balloon animal balloons in one minute, on the Regis and Kelly show. Those balloons are not easy to inflate, and I’ve always questioned people who use a little pump to blow up the balloons. Come on!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this … brilliant post, Jim. The Juggling Life. About those two young fiddlers … I wonder where their dots lead them? Also, I’ve never especially liked clowns previously, possibly because I’ve never known one personally. Now, I do, a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Michael. It was a fun one to put together and it gave me a chance to reminisce about some of the good old days.
      And I know clowns don’t have the best rep, but if I can change one opinion at a time, then I’ve done my job…
      Those two country fiddlers became part of the family band that played at local pubs and other venues. I just checked, and it looks like they are still performing: http://www.cramerbrothersband.com/bios.htm
      And to think I knew them when…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love your early juggling video on YouTube. I would’ve knocked myself out heaving the first bowling pin. Incredible talent, truly. On a side note, I enjoy listening to Cajun fiddlers and have long had an odd liking of anything squeezebox related. Whether Zydeco, Polka or Tejano accordion.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve had a few bruises over the years from those juggling clubs…
        and I enjoy listening to fiddlers as well, especially a good old Irish jig; the accordion is more hit and miss…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This looks like fun, Jim. Life has a strange way of going off in unexpected and different directions. I never thought I would be making YouTube videos for kids stuck at home during a global pandemic either. I never thought I would write a book for that matter or learn to do fondant art. My, oh my, a lot of unexpected things in my life too, to be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was great Jim! Have you ever tried juggling knives?πŸ€” I saw a guy when I was in high school that came by and he juggled knives, fantastic watching him. I have tried juggling tennis balls but for some reason they kept landing on my head so I gave up!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ΉDoing those clubs can’t be easy either. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Steve! I have not juggled knives – but never say never! I have juggled fire torches, but without the flame being lit… It’s usually just a matter of pratice, practice, practice, and before you know it, you’re juggling!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Even when I’m not trying juggling I’m still a danger to my immediate surroundings!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ΉStill, I might try it later. It’s all white with a new layer of snow this morning.πŸ˜³β˜ƒβ„

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s kind of typical weather for us, we can get snow later than this.😳 Snow on the trees can look nice for sure. The way it is snowing and blowing around right now looks more like January. We will lose a lot of the insect eating birds in this.πŸ˜•

        Like

  7. I loved reading this. You connected the dots very well and juggling for the kids probably one of the most rewarding seeing their faces. I would also like to add as Deepak Chopra states. The only thing that’s certain is the the past. The very is and forever will be uncertain!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Connecting the dots, it was great to read your story! Who could have seen how all these dots connected. The video was great! A talent you still share, I’m sure the kids loved it and all want to try it out now! 🎳 🀑 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Beth. Juggling, at least the basics, is like riding a bike. Once you learn how to do it, you don’t forget. Hopefully one of the kids will be interested enough to give it a shot!

      Like

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