When Steve and I were first married we attended a fireside for young married couples where the president of the university (then President David Bednar) spoke to us. He had a few prepared remarks for those of us who were just starting our journeys together and then opened it up to a question and answer period. Although his prepared remarks were somewhat brief, he taught a principle that Steve and I reference often; the plate spinner. (I’ve heard him reference this principle two times since we first heard it years ago.)
The principle is simple. We are all standing in front of a table. On that table are numerous stands with a plate spinning at the top of each stand. A plate will spin really well for a given amount of time before it loses momentum and starts to wobble. At this time it is the responsibility of the plate spinner to give the plate some momentum before it gets too far off balance and crashes to the ground. Once given the necessary attention to get it spinning again, the plate spinner turns it’s attention to the next plate that is wobbly and so on and so forth.
We are all spinning plates. Each person may spin a different set of plates, but we’re spinning none the less.
When life starts to get out of balance, Steve and I readress our spinning plates. And we often ask – What plate is going to fall first? What plate can we just remove for a while? What plate seems to require more spinning than the others? We’ve spent almost 10 years evaluating and re-evaluating our plate situation. Over the years, some of our plates have changed and there’s times in our life when some plates seem to spin without any attention at all. This is not one of those times.
School and life is already taking it’s toll on Steve and our family. Last week, out of frustration and exhaustion we sat down to assess the situation and try to figure out where we can squeak out a little more time and energy. Steve was able to pinpoint how I felt and gave specific examples as to why it’s been hard. I then expressed why I felt he was frustrated and I nailed it, it was so obvious to me. He is currently spinning more plates than he ever has. And as he looks down the row of plates every single one of them is wobbling. He runs down the row as fast as he can touching every plate with just enough oomph to keep it going before he gets to the end of the row and runs all the way back doing the same thing. After running down and back he looks down the row and sees no improvement – for all his effort and running, the plates are wobbling just as they did before. Not one seems to be spinning on it’s own. I see him running down and back, down and back. And yet when he does run back, more than anything I just want to hold him and feel him close, but I know he sees the plate wobbling in the distance and its not long before he sprints back to give it momentum. It’s frustrating on many levels, but I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be for him.
We’re not alone either, I know many people who are in the same exact boat and they’re doing everything they can to keep their plates from falling and crashing to the floor. But for us, acknowledging it last week gave us a renewed sense of hope. This is a stage. We won’t always spin these specific plates and we’re hopeful that some of these plates will begin to maintain balance better. Here’s to another semester.