Once upon a time, there lived a young boy named Chris who wanted to be the best juggler the world had ever seen. He dreamed of entertaining thousands of people around the world with his amazing juggling skills and, every morning before school, he would wake up, head outside and practice juggling with the special clubs his grandmother had purchased for him on his seventh birthday. This was two years ago, and Chris had obviously improved since then. He had started by practising with a single club, gradually moving on to “The Double Throw” and, before long, attempting to juggle all three clubs at the same time. Which he couldn’t do, because Chris wasn’t very good at juggling at all. In fact, despite making some improvements over the year, he was, as it turned out, a dreadful juggler.
Chris knew he wasn’t very skilled, but this didn’t stop him from using most of his free time to get better. His parents even tried to have conversations with him where they redefined what ‘juggling’ was and argued between themselves about ‘what makes a good juggler’, but Chris understood precisely what made a good juggler. It said so on the very first page in the How to Juggle with Clubs book that came with his birthday present:
What is a Juggler?
A juggler is someone who is skilled in keeping several objects in motion in the air at the same time by alternately tossing and catching them.
It was evident to Chris for some time that keeping clubs in the air was not a talent he possessed, let alone alternately tossing them or catching them, but this fact seemed to bother those around him more than it bothered Chris. He felt far too inspired by the posters of influential jugglers on his bedroom wall to start changing the definition of what a juggler was and was not.
One day, a talent contest was announced at Greenvale School and Chris was encouraged by his parents to sign up to display what they referred to as his “cute juggling skills.” Chris attempted once again to explain that he really didn’t have that many skills, but, if there was one thing that could make Chris change his mind, it was the sight of his mother being upset and upset she was. All she wanted, she had said, was to watch her son try and live out his dreams. Reluctantly, Chris signed up for the Greenvale Talent Contest.
In the weeks leading up to the contest, Chris practised harder than he had ever practised before, waking up earlier and staying up later just to be able to fit in more practice. He read his How to Juggle with Clubs book cover to cover several times over and attempted tricks he had never thought possible. And, they weren’t possible. Because, despite all of his practice, Chris still wasn’t very good at juggling. He struggled to even get the basics of throwing two clubs up in the air at the same time most days. This is not to say there weren’t moments where Chris felt like his practice might pay off, but they were few and far between and, once the day of the Talent Contest arrived, Chris felt extremely unprepared.
While watching act after amazing act from the side of the stage, Chris started to feel increasingly nervous. There were students who could combine karate and dance into a single movement, ventriloquists, magicians and hypnotists and even a girl who claimed that eating fruit from a mysterious tree could help her sing. Whenever he felt too overwhelmed though, he reminded himself that he was doing this for his mother and that was enough to keep him going.
Eventually, Chris’s name was called out and he walked out from behind the curtain.
On the drive home, Chris sat peacefully in the back of the car, watching the clouds move overhead. His parents sat quietly in the front seats, his dad driving while his mother closed her eyes and enjoyed the breeze on her face. She had never felt prouder of her son and, when she opened her eyes, she smiled as she looked in the side-view mirror. She had caught a glimpse of her son in the backseat, tightly clutching his participation trophy close to his chest.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attrbution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.