This article is dedicated to a dear friend of mine, Kyle Snell. Kyle is one of my closest friends and visited me every day I was in the hospital. Ironically, Kyle is an amazing athlete, completing the Boston Marathon, twice. I call this ironic because, even though athletics used to be a major part of my life, I now even struggle to walk. Kyle is now completing a fellowship in Sports Medicine, but was once a resident physician in our program. I had hoped to practice with him. I dedicate this article to him because I often think of his situation and this analogy.


In life we are constantly trying to juggle. What we juggle and how much we juggle varies from person to person; for example, there are some of us that are juggling light handkerchiefs. On the other hand there are some of us who try to juggle flaming bowling pins; some of us juggle two things at a time, while others try to juggle five or six items at a time. There is no right or wrong way to juggle. For some, juggling lighter items makes life bearable, for others juggling many things at a time is the way to go. The key, like everything else in life, is to find the right balance; you need to figure out what works for you, what you can handle.

This topic is apropos due to both my recent change in situation and in giving advice to a good friend of mine. In the latter situation, my friend, who had entered into a new relationship was at a crossroads and wondered if taking the next step (i.e. marriage and children) was prudent. I gave his question much thought and came to the conclusion that adding more to his plate now may cause him to neglect something else in his life. I then gave him the analogy of juggling, which I’ll share with you; for me, this ordeal has highlighted the idea of juggling and ultimately the limits with which we ought to give ourselves when trying to undertake something new (or perhaps something old). In my specific case, ‘the balls’ I juggled were family, friends, medicine, and exercise. I did not realize this, but before my surgery, medicine was a very large, heavy ball while family (even though at the time I thought it to be a ‘large ball’) was in fact more like a tennis ball. Since the surgery I have become increasingly focused on my family; and by this analogy it would be represented by a basketball now.  

For my friend, I warned him that adding another ball to his juggling act (or more accurately adding more weight to what he is juggling) could produce disastrous results, for he may neglect something he was keeping in the air and inadvertently ‘drop it’. I had decided that for him, his juggling act was already in delicate balance and I feared that adding anything else would end up in a ‘dropped ball. I knew that for him, he always gave everything he has (and more) to whatever he decided to ‘juggle’ and that adding yet another item to juggle wasn’t a good idea. Thankfully, he took my advice and did not pursue anything further. I recently saw him and he seems happier than ever, and content with his decision.

I’ve come to the realization, however, that this juggling analogy not only pertains to both his situation and mine, but to everyone’s. We all have issues that we are metaphorically juggling. Knowing what you are juggling can help you to make decisions whether to undertake something new. That by no means implies you should stay away from new activities; just know that this juggling act is a delicate balance—as I was told “only you know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.” Only you truly know this balance and what you are capable of juggling.

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