The world has changed dramatically since my last monthly roundup newsletter. In fact, the world is changing dramatically every single day. Never in my lifetime have I seen so much uncertainty, so much disruption, so much change in how we live, how we interact, how we think, even how we breathe.
We are on a boat, in a storm.
And we need to stay balanced on this boat that’s getting pummeled by waves, wind, lightning, and rain. A stock market that soars and plummets by 5-10% daily. New instructions, sometimes hourly, about what to do and what not to do, where to go and where not to go.
In order not to get seasick, we need to find solid ground. Somewhere we can breathe and be OK. A place where, even while the storm rages on, we can find our steady, safe, maybe even peaceful, selves.
Which is why, now more than ever, we need practices. Rituals we follow every day that ground us, settle us, keep us connected to what’s important to us. Things that, in the midst of change and uncertainty, don’t change. No matter what.
There are lots of things that help me feel grounded: Having dinner with my family every night. Listening to my wife Eleanor, hiking with 18-year-old Isabelle, watching Jane the Virgin with my 14-year-old Sophia, and shooting videos with my 12-year-old Daniel. Meditating. Putting on my Tefillin in the morning (A Jewish prayer ritual). Exercising (in our living room or outside, not in a gym!).
Yet there is one thing that grounds me more than any other, that settles me and moves me in deep ways, that helps me find myself at a time when I might otherwise get lost in stress or distraction:
Sitting quietly, connecting to myself, choosing my words thoughtfully, reading what I’ve written back to myself, rearranging words and sentences, then reading it back to myself again, editing some more – I love it. It feels useful and it makes me happy. I feel it right now as I write these words to you.
I’ve come to realize that, along with my personal, familial, and spiritual practices, along with making sure we have enough food and toilet paper (I don’t quite understand the toilet paper anxiety but…), I need to protect my writing. To cordon off a solid amount of time, every day, to settle in, think, and write.
And while it helps tremendously to commit to those practices that ground us, I’ve also noticed a number of habits I’ve fallen into that unground me. Things that destabilize me, take me off balance, and distract me from my writing: Listening to the news (more than once a day). Texting (or simply even reading) group texts. Participating on large zoom calls. Fantasizing (in a negative way) about the demise of our civilization and the inevitable devastation to our economy and social structures.
It’s not that I can never have these thoughts or do these things. But I need to compartmentalize them. Limit them. Because doing them too much becomes a distraction. They don’t feed me like writing does.
My lists of grounding – and ungrounding – practices are highly personal and individual. Yours will be too. Think about what helps you find your ground. Then see if you can find the one thing that feeds you deeply in a grounding, settled way. Once you identify it, make time for it. Build it into your schedule. Commit to it.
What truly feeds you? Can you find time to do it every day? Can you feel the impact? Please share in the comments section; I’d love to hear about it.