Daily Archives: March 15, 2013

Life is a ball

On this blog, I have restricted myself to saying how wonderful, and life-affirming juggling is, until now. It is now time to discuss the dark side of juggling. Perhaps the biggest negative is that when you are a juggler, you run the risk of developing a mental illness called “sphairaphilia”. What is “sphairaphilia”? It is an obsession with balls and spherical objects. I coined the term myself(I even Googled it first to see if it was already being used), from the Greek words “sphaira” for “ball” or “sphere” and “philia”, for “love”.


People with this obsession generally want to either play or juggle any round objects they encounter. I admit I have this condition. Everywhere I go, balls call out to me – “Juggle me!”, “Juggle me!”. Of course this isn’t always possible or appropriate.

As tempting as it is, I don’t juggle those expensive ornamental type balls I see at antique stores or Pier 1(or rather I do it very rarely). Maybe if I was Bill Gates or Warren Buffett I would, since I could break a million of them and it really wouldn’t matter how much they cost. I do, however, often juggle fruit at grocery stores and supermarkets, and have so far managed to not get myself into trouble.

Another symptom of this illness is sadness over the inability to juggle certain really big balls. The earth, for instance, is a giant spherical object – a really big ball! Although I live on it, I unfortunately cannot juggle it. Or any other planet, for that matter. Archimedes, the ancient Greek mathematician and engineer once said “Give me a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall move the earth.”

Perhaps I am a bit more ambitious than Archimedes, but I love to think that: “Give me but a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall juggle the earth, and mars and venus”. Maybe we are related, I am of Greek origins after all.

From my usual vantage point, I can’t see that the earth is a giant sphere, but there is another giant ball I often see(through dark sunglasses) while I joggle outside – the sun. How I wish I could reach out and grab it and juggle it. But it is 93 million miles away. And it’s a big ball of fiery gas, a giant nuclear fusion reaction – billions of tons of hydrogen getting converted to billions of tons of helium every minute and in the process, releasing so much heat and light that we can feel it across the solar system. There wouldn’t be any life at all on the ball called earth without the ball of gas we call the sun.

The sun itself is just one of countless stars in the entire universe. There are between 10^22 and 10^24 stars (between 10 sextillion and 1 septillion stars) in the entire universe. That is an incredibly huge number! And yet I will never be able to juggle any of them, not even any dwarf stars.

God, or the universe or whatever you want to call it gets to juggle all these stars, and planets and meteors. How I envy this! And manages to do so entirely within the laws of physics, as far as we can tell. Even the planet we are currently living on is getting juggled, it is revolving around the sun and the sun itself is moving through the universe within our galaxy.

The same laws of physics that I work with while juggling are the same rules that apply to all the stars, planets, and other objects getting juggled throughout the universe. The balls I use may be plastic, but it’s all part of the same glorious game. The elements in the plastic, the carbon and everything else were once inside of giant stars billions of years ago;  so was the matter that is now the planet earth and all life. It really is true that we are all made of stardust. So I am juggling parts of stars after all.

There is no cure for sphairophilia. Even though you will be super-obsessed with balls, and stars, you will more than make up for this by being super-fit, and being super-coordinated. You will also realize just how small we are, in the grand scheme of things.

If you want to get fit and stay fit, it helps to have a well-rounded fitness routine. Have a ball!