Lessons from the balloon's baby brother: Readiness

You’ve been playing with a balloon and learning some surprising lessons about your voice and your upper body. The time has come for you to broaden your exploration. Take a tennis ball in your hand. It doesn’t matter if it’s old and beat-up. If you don’t have a tennis ball at home, an orange or tangerine will do, anything with a similar dimension and texture. Tennis ball or citrus fruit, just hold it as a playful, mischievous, curious child would: What can I do with this thing? In how many ways can I amuse myself? How can I use this object to annoy my mother?

Objects invite the resourceful child inside us to discover the capacity of the hands to hold, squeeze, pinch, poke, caress, slap, throw, catch, and so on. Squeeze the tennis ball, for instance. It yields to some degree, it resists to some degree, both more or less at once. You can feel the ball’s rubbery core at the same time you feel its outer surface, fuzzy like a kitten’s back. And you can also feel the skin, flesh, and bones of your own hand, which—like the ball—is innately resilient and multilayered.

It’s a double exploration: you find out about the object at the same time you explore your hand, or more broadly, your whole self. Throw the ball up in the air, catch it; throw it from hand to hand, find a rhythm and let the rhythm do the work for you. The tennis ball was born to be thrown, and it invites you to go with it, to enter the game and never leave it.  Let your palms, fingers, wrists, and arms enjoy the object's bounciness, and before long their own inborn elasticity will enter your awareness. Hold the ball in between the palms of both hands and roll it about, massaging the ball with your palms and your palms with the ball. The ball’s roundness, its shape, texture, and weight all contribute to making the experience delightful. And the delight comes not from the ball itself, but from your hands.

Every object in your life has lots of wisdom to impart—and I mean every object without exception, including headbands, eyeglasses, furniture, shoes, belts, toothbrushes, cell phones. All you need is to approach each object with the right frame of mind, which I propose to call “readiness.” Needless to say, your violin, your piano, your flute are fine partners in the game of object wisdom. And they’re dying to play with you.



Ø n. the state or quality of being ready


Ø adj. (readier, readiest)

1a prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action

1b prepared for immediate use

2a (1) willingly disposed

2a (2) likely to do something

2b spontaneously prompt

3 notably dexterous, adroit, or skilled

4 immediately available