Watching the jugglers, spinning the plates

As I was growing up I was easily entertained.  I don’t mean that I was good at sitting in a room by myself, reading a book and pondering whatever it is that an author hoped I might ponder.  But set me in front of an episode of “Leave it to Beaver,” or allow me a few minutes with Barney on the “Andy Griffith Show.”  Well I would sit engrossed and enthralled.  I could not wait for the rare moment that Barney would reach into his pocket and pull out his single bullet.  Do one thing Barney, do it well.

I could watch any sport.  I could watch the rain.  I could watch the effects of the wind.  I could listen to music and memorize the words to every Simon and Garfunkel song.  I could stare out the window in the middle of any class I was forced to endure.  Nothing in school ever captured me.  With one exception, journalism classes.  I did enjoy writing, and when I discovered it was a craft, well I just ignored it for about 4 decades until I started this blog in November 2013.

For the first 30 days, I wrote daily.  Some good stuff I think, and some not so good I know. But it was fun and is fun and greases the wheels.

Strangely, though a journalism major, I can’t write for a deadline.  And though I do like to read fiction on occasion, I can’t craft a character or a situation to save my life.  I am a stream of consciousness blubberer.  I actually believe that people will be entertained if I write what I think.  OK, actually I thing I will be entertained if I write what I think, and I am flattered if you come along for the ride… or the write.

And today, I must tell you, I am baffled.  No disturbed.  And this my friends is my rant.  What the hell is multi-tasking.  And what makes people think they are actually doing the multi-task dance on this ballroom floor of life.   I have to ask, what makes it so special?  What is this skill set?  I hear people speak of it as if it was something to admire.  In the corporate world I once lived, I think it was the catch phrase for how to work someone to exhaustion.  Why focus on excellence, when quantity will do?

As I was growing up I use to be fascinated by jugglers and plate spinners.  The juggler I most admired.. W.C. Fields.  And I could watch him do his cigar box balancing/juggling act again and again.  Loved it. (you should YouTube it) And Plate spinners, a feature on the Ed Sullivan show, the circus actors who would place multiple plates on multiple sticks and run from stick to stick to keep the plates spinning and not falling. Wobbling, Wobbling, spin and save.  But these were not multi-taskers.  They were doing one thing with several moving parts, and doing it very well.

Seriously, what is it?   Multi Tasking.  Is as simple as playing the guitar and singing the words to the tune you are strumming?  Now that I understand.  I even understand the one man bands  Those performers are certainly on the edge of multi-tasking.


There may be one legitimate group in this realm.  Actually there is one group.  I must admit, Mothers, with children of any age, may be penultimate multi-taskers.  They are, it appears to me, the one woman bands of the human race.  They put the corporate wanna be types to shame.

Most Multi Taskers are just doing one thing.  Then stopping and doing something else. If this qualifies,  Eating lunch at the desk, and talking on the phone, and looking out my window.. then I was also an accomplished multi-tasker.  But honestly the whole concept confuses me.

I recall the first time my parents took me to the 3 ring circus, Kansas City, the late 50’s.  Oh how I enjoyed it, and hated it.  How does one watch 3 rings and enjoy them all.  Trapeze, little dogs and hoops, Clowns… movement everywhere.  I know I missed things.  As an adult the same thing happens at a Cirque du Soleil show.  People are climbing, and balancing, and tumbling and doing everywhere at once…. love it…. hate it.  Multi Task observing.  Tough on me.

My rant is now complete.

So enjoy your day.  Stop and smell the flowers, sing a song, and wave hello to a stranger.

For those of you on the way to the office…… Barney, pass me your bullet.

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