Over family dinner of Moroccan-spices-plus-all-the-veggies-in-the-fridge, Max asked me a question in reply to some nonsense sentences I was spouting:

“What does it feel like, for you, this concept of being ‘grounded’?”

Shamefully I had already forgotten the sentence I had said which, I’m assuming, contained the word “grounded”. Actually, I’d forgotten the entire context for it. I had simply been speaking sentences I believed to hold together loosely in intellectual progression of thought. This is a common side effect of the days I spend cycling through the hills singing loudly to myself and not practicing human conversation.

“Hum-uh-hmmm, eh, good question,” I said, buying time for myself. I was tempted to shoot back, I-dunno-you-tell-me, like I do to seven-year-old Samuele from time to time. But the “mature” portion of me caught it in time. “I think, perhaps, it could be that this concept of grounded is, in sorts, related to—relatively speaking—the process of being, you know, uh—what was the question?”

Max brews his tea slow—a metaphor for patience that I’ve invented—and graciously repeated himself. “Mature” Josie advised me to gently submerge my gaping fish lips in a bucket of quiet rectitude and admit uncertainty.

“Dunno, actually,” I said.

The conversation shifted to people who could handle it better.

I awoke the next morning and lost myself in a jaunt through the hills of west Auckland. Lo and behold, the concept of groundedness came up in my mind on the long downhill stretch of Coulter Road.

What does it feel like to be grounded?

It’s concept I yearn for, and praise, and think I know what it means—structurally, that is—but how does it feel? That’s something I haven’t thought of before. Or at least thought long enough on to reach some sort of resolution.

Easy strides spun my thoughts into circles as I tried to imagine the feeling of being grounded. Could it just be a buzz-word I house in my soul for times I want to sound connected, spiritual, mindful? No, that’s too easy. Try harder.

It took the hour to come to terms with what being grounded could feel like.

I can’t speak to the universality of this, but for me: grounded is having a purpose that I believe both contributes to the welfare of humanity and reinforces the authenticity of my own soul. It is then setting up routines and habits which propel me towards the purpose. It is beyond having a goal; it’s having a mission.

As to what that feels like:

a spiral staircase, with The Purpose as the ground floor floor. The steps I descend are marked curiosity, wonder, amazement, abandonment, contradiction, disappointment, disillusion, salvation, spirituality, and it’s semi-chaotic and I often go one step down two steps back but the handrail I grip is connected to that bottom floor, to The Purpose, and I am grounded as long as I keep sight of that, keep holding that handrail.

It sometimes feels more like holding onto Jim Hawkins’ hand as I dangle off the side of the Hispaniola in the middle of a tsunami. But we’ve got Treasure Island to get to, despite the threats of mutiny.

Other times it feels like snuggling down into a hot bath, with epsom salts singing sweet lullabies to the callouses on my feet and the bubbles giggling against my forearms. Feeling like, yeah, the Universe aids me in my pursuit of The Purpose. It feels easy to be here.

Structurally speaking, being grounded is calm lumbering Purpose towards the end of the World. As to the emotion of it: it feels chaotic and not always the peace-fingered asana I imagine it should be. I can lose my sense of being grounded when I stray from the handrail, ignore the routines I’ve crafted, allow feelings of insignificance to distract me.

Returning to groundedness is not returning to a feeling of bliss and unconditional support. It’s simply taking hold of the handrail, reminding myself of my mission. It’s also being patient with myself as I learn how to keep going.

Learning to demand less perfection and to brew my tea more slowly. Essential ingredients.

Peace and Blessings,


4 Comments on “To Feel Grounded

  1. I appreciate how you share your thoughts out there for all of us. Thanks. You seem like a bit of a stoic so maybe this language doesn’t resonate with you, but I consider that a life of “meaning” comes with a connection to meaningful purposes. A merely purposeful life can get you through a lot. You can survive even a death camp as a person of purpose, but without a connection to meaning you may wonder why you even bothered to survive. Maybe that connection to meaning is part of what makes a life that is “grounded.”


    • Yes–this reminds me of reading Victor Frankl! It’s difficult finding meaningful purposes, though, eh? A subjective concept, we have to spend the time cultivating. Kinda like passion–a “meaningful purpose” isn’t something to stumble upon, but something to spend time with until it becomes meaningful. The tricky part for me is that sometimes I feel I waste so much time wondering if I’m wasting time. Overthinking my life as it is now, analyzing it and demanding: “does this have meaning!?” A balance, perhaps, between letting the purposes, passions, senses of meaning arise organically, and then devoting the time to cultivating them.


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