During that “in-between” time right after college (and before starting “real life”) I decided that I was going to learn to juggle.  I suppose it was the beginning of my “bucket list” – I wasn’t going to die before I could juggle.

I picked up a Klutz book and opened it up.  The first direction:  “Drop the balls on the ground.  Get used to that sound, as you’ll be hearing it a lot.”  Yep, they were right.  But after some, okay a lot, of practice, I got it.   Three balls.  In the air. Not on the floor.  Yay, me!

I enjoy it so much that I started juggling objects other than the hacky sack/beanbags that came with my set.  I was especially fond of koosh balls, because I could jam three of them in a pocket and take them with me anywhere.  And, if you take me to the toy section of the department store, I’m likely to be found juggling rubber balls in the aisle.  Even better is the sporting goods store!  I can really challenge myself there.  (Although I’ve noticed that the staff tends to frown on stray soccer/bocce/footballs bouncing around the store.)

This summer,  I decided that I wanted to learn to juggle other things – like clubs.  So, I picked up a set of clubs, and have been practicing with them.  I’m doing okay – I keep them in the air more than I drop them, but I still get backaches from bending over to retrieve scattered clubs (true story).  Although, it did prompt me to learn to do a real cool “kick-up” so I don’t have to bend over so much.

While juggling this summer, I was talking with Ellen about the tattoos we wanted to get for our 15th anniversary.  I knew I wanted a Buddhism-related one, and I had settled on an Om in a lotus, sort of stylized.  The key word was “settled”. It would have been cool, but it wasn’t speaking to me.  Since this would be my first tattoo, I wanted it to be just right.  I don’t know who suggested it, so I’ll give us each half credit, but someone said “How about a juggling buddha?”

Hello! Perfect!

I’m no juggling expert, and I’m no Buddhism expert, but I see a lot of connections.

Juggling reminds me a lot about what attracts me to the whole Meditation/Buddhism universe.

In juggling…

  • there are many distractions in your surroundings.  To keep the cascade going, you have to acknowledge the distractions and let them go.
  • you have to concentrate on what is in front of you, or it will fall apart.
  • if you try to grab for the balls/clubs, the cascade will fall.  You have to let them come to you.
  • when you catch, you must do so gently.
  • there are only so many things you can keep in the air.  As you practice, you get better at it.
  • when you are able to keep the cascade going, it’s a joyful experience.
  • what you think is real is an illusion.  Someone juggling 4 balls is really juggling 2 in each hand. (Shh…don’t tell.)
  • you have to let things go with the right velocity and rotation for them to arrive safely in your other hand.
  • it takes a lot of practice to see results.

Sound familiar?

In thinking about the design, I came up with the image of a “laughing buddha” to represent that joyful feeling of being able to keep everything in balance.  I chose five balls for him to be juggling, using the traditional colors of a prayer flag.  I decided that one should be on the ground, as it’s impossible to keep everything “up in the air” and we need to decide what things to put down.

When researching what the colors of the prayer flags meant, this is what I found out:

  • Blue: sky/space
  • White: air/wind
  • Red: fire
  • Green: water
  • Yellow: ground

Coincidentally, the one I had chosen to leave on the ground was the yellow one. Appropriate!

I had this image in my mind of what it would look like, but hadn’t done anything about it yet.  I then started sitting with the Online Meditation Crew, and saw that The Kamikazen was designing twitter avatars for some of the crew members.  I asked him if he would like to take a stab at this tattoo design.  Much to my surprise, and excitement, he said yes.

We spent a few days of back and forth with descriptions/drawings.  What I was looking for was different than his usual style, so he had to work a little outside his comfort zone, and I wasn’t very good at explaining what I could see in my head.  Once it was all said and done, this is what he came up with:

This was almost exactly what I was seeing in my head, with a little Kamikazen twist to it.

All the avatars that The Kamikazen had designed he turned into t-shirts that you can purchase.  This one is no exception.  You, too, can have this way cool design on a t-shirt (or a hoody, or long sleeve tee, or onesie, or a sticker), just by following this link*.  Proceeds from the sale of this t-shirt (and the other ones in the store*) go to charitable causes, so buy a couple of them!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does!  Notice on the t-shirt there is some text below the design.  It says, “Balance…It’s all up in the air.”  This perfect tagline was added by the OMC’s founder ZenOutlaw!!

What a great collaboration – thank you KamikaZEN and Zen Outlaw!

Now, to get up the courage to get the ink put on…



*Update (9:00pm) – moments after I published this post, The Kamikazen announced the launch of the official Online Meditation Crew store.  The link in the article works (as of this writing), but for the latest up-to-date stuff go here:  I Want My OMC Gear! or, you can go right to the page with the Juggling Buddha.

Update (again) (9/13) – Just released!!! The Juggling Buddha in color!!  Get yours now!

« »