Less is More

Teaching kids in Port-au-Prince how to juggle using a readily accessible material – smooth rocks.

When I was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti last month, I had the privilege of visiting a children’s home/orphanage of about 30 kids between the ages of 10-17. My host, Scott, asked if I would be willing to teach the kids how to juggle. I was happy to do so. The only problem is that I did not bring along any juggling materials (balls, scarves, plastic bags, anything).

So I showed the kids some tricks with the three bouncy balls that I brought along with me that evening. Then I realized that we were all standing outside (the power was out at the moment – a regular occurrence in Haiti) on a bed of smooth gravel rocks that made up the entire front yard area of their orphanage.

For a moment I hesitated, but then I said, “Alright, everybody pick up three stones and we’ll learn how to juggle together using the stones.” I hesitated because I figured, “kids+rocks=rock throwing.”

But I was wrong. These kids respected the rocks. In fact, I didn’t see any of them even attempting to misbehave with the rocks. They all patiently listened to my instructions and proceeded to learn how to juggle using the rocks in their hands.

I’m sorry to say this, but if this had been an average group of kids from America, at least of contingency of them (most likely the boys) would be throwing rocks at each other in 10 seconds or less. I’ve taught lots of groups of kids how to juggle, and that’s just what the boys want to do no matter what material we’re using.

But not the kids in Haiti. It could have been that particular group and the manners they’ve been taught. But I’d like to think that there is something about having very little in this world – you don’t take anything for granted. Most kids in America have more than enough “stuff.” We live in a culture and an age of consumerism. And unfortunately, too much stuff means taking everything for granted – even three objects with which to learn how to juggle.

These kids in Haiti had relatively nothing compared to even underprivileged children in America. Yet they joyfully accepted the task of learning how to juggle with rocks from their front yard on a Sunday evening. They behaved and they took nothing for granted.

In my opinion, less is more.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.