Spinning the plates
I am wired for multi-tasking. Life is endlessly fascinating for me: there are always new things to experience, new ideas to try on, new places to visit, new lessons to learn. Usually in clumps of four or eight at a time.
Note the extensive use of the word “new.” It’s a scant disguise for the word “chaos.”
Yes, I love “new” but when I allow myself to indulge in new-new-new-new-new-new-new, I have so many New Things in my life that none of them mature fully into DONE. I don’t get to really experience them because I am hopping off in another direction to explore more “new” things.
And often, it’s only when I accidentally bump into the original “new” thing — which has now lost its shiny veneer and is officially “used” or “old” — that I come to one of two conclusions:
a) that I have totally lost track of how much I wanted to learn about/do/explore/finish that previously “new” thing; OR
b) that I must have been out of my mind to even consider trying on that ‘new’ thing and thank goodness I haven’t wasted any more precious time on it.So, being passionate about life’s exciting possibilities is good…up to a point.
It’s very much like the guy on Ed Sullivan who would spin plates on wooden dowels (okay, I am really dating myself now). He’d get one started and then start another one and keep coming back to the first one to keep it spinning. Then he’d start another one and another one until there were a dozen plates all spinning on sticks and he would be running back and forth on the stage, tending to his little spinning plates.
This guy was a professional plate spinner (what kind of title is THAT to put on your resume? I guess he was self employed so it made little difference). He was paid to keep his plates spinning and not break them. Although, let’s face it, the chances are good that he broke a lot of plates during the learning process (who teaches you that skill? who thinks up spinning and breaking plates in the first place?).
But if I put myself in that plate spinner’s place, using my “new” interests as the logical analogy for the plates, then I have a lot of broken crockery lying around me.
It seems to me that I barely get one plate spinning and then when another more attractive plate comes along, I turn my back on it. Soon, I lose interest in that one, too, in favor of yet another new plate. And, to my horror, the shards pile up around me. Some of those plates weren’t important to me anyway. Some of them were; I have lost some of the new things that could be melded into my being, things that truly were representative of Who I Am in the world.
There might be some substitute plates out there; I have grieved the loss of the originals. But perhaps the lesson is Big and Wise: to keep my plate spinning, I must focus on one at a time. Get it up and spinning steadily before I turn my back or even my head.
And I don’t need to spend a lot of time getting ready to spin plates. I just need to focus on that single plate. I may decide to stop spinning the plate; it may bore the heck out of me. But I don’t have to let it break,I can calmly grab it, set it aside and find a plate that is more palatable. More fun. More interesting.
I have a lot of plates spinning right now (so what else is … um…new?). So I think I’ll grab a few of them that are simply taking up my time and attention and spin the heck out of the shiny plates I really like. For now. Changeable at a moment’s notice. Whew. What a relief.