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Multiple Balancing Acts

When I was a kid, my parents tolerated a months-long obsession with balancing mobiles. A friend at a birthday party gave me a simple three bar hanging mobile as a gift, not knowing what this simple trinket would spark. After putting it together, we went to hang it from the ceiling of the room I shared with my sister. I remember moving the pieces back and forth until the first bar, then the second, then the third was finally balanced. Every move created an impact on every other piece. Moving one bar into balance took the others out. However, with patience, observation and tiny corrections, we eventually got the whole mobile to hang together as a unit. The feeling of bringing the pieces together was incredibly satisfying. After working through that puzzle, I decided to make my own mobile. This time I added different bars, where sometimes the ends weren’t symmetrical. On one end, I would place another bar of two items to be balanced on the other end by one item. The weight of any one item on the mobile did not matter nearly as much as its position relative to the other pieces. A very heavy piece could be counterbalanced by several light pieces well placed. Or the heavy piece had much less impact when placed near the center of gravity; moved out to the edge, the heavy piece would impact the rest of the picture even more. Every time the mobile would finally come together, after many ...
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