When we spin right off the very planet with which we are (meant to be) joined in partnership; when we loose our footing and tip heavily into our heads, life will usually force our hand, or our foot, in order to ground us. I learned this for myself, oh, about 14 years ago when I became so ungrounded (a trait of mine…) that my health brought me crashing back down to earth again. In hindsight, it was a sure sign that I needed grounding…that it was long overdue.
It also taught me to be aware that there is opportunity in all things…however unlikely it may seem.
Health in crisis is a classic way to find yourself grounded, and I was…for a long time but, being me, I only found newer ways to become ungrounded again; spinning out of my head into expansive, abstract, spiritual, existential, nonlinear thoughts that took me far, far away from everyday physical life. The rest, as they say, is history…or her story…the story of my life to date; until I realised (yet again) just how ungrounded I had become and set about doing some things, consciously refocusing my attention to the matter of “life on earth”, in order to reground myself. Now, I pay the need for such balance more heed, give it much more respect, than I ever have, though I still tend towards the trait of ungroundedness, I’ll freely admit…its the way I’m made!
I share this little anecdote because this feels like where we all are right now as this pandemic unfolds. One of the best descriptions of it that Ive come across made the quip that humanity has messed up “big time” and has now been sent to its room to think about what it has done…well, there is a strong element of that. We have spun into our heads and off the planet, chasing aspirational lifestyles and the trend of “want want want“ without balanced consideration for the consequences down here on earth. We’ve chased after all the pipe dreams for far too long, without anchoring them to the floor.
So, if we have been sent to our rooms, what next? Speaking as one who was sent to her room for about fourteen years, to a life of fire-fighting a health crisis whilst, mostly, “forced” by circumstance to pull back from life to reconsider what it was really all about, I can tell you that there is nothing more potent than this for throwing up a set of quite different priorities. This time spent being forcibly grounded will surely trigger many people, (not all…many, no doubt, will expect to continue exactly as before) but perhaps a tipping point number of them, to reconsider their priorities and make the kind of changes that, on the longer trajectory, deliver massive differences in five to ten years, maybe far less time than that. Again, I know…I speak from experience as one who has been there and has the t-shirt of a life that bears no resemblance to the one I had before.
There’s that other thing about being grounded; the aspirational part, the yearning, exploratory part that had to be grounded in the first place and which won’t want to sit still in the corner, will point-blank refuse to stay in under any circumstances…and, so, will have to find other ways to “get out”. Mine did. Mine discovered that I wasn’t that body “stuck there” in so much pain and limitation; that I could expand far beyond that physicality and explore so much more than my physical bonds told me I was capable of and so I grew and and I grew; or, rather, my consciousness did…in super quick time. The human spirit is a wholly unlimited thing but sometimes it takes a crisis for it to realise this very thing…
This, too, is something I expect to happen for a whole lot of people as things continue along this “groundedness” pathway. New aspirations will form, ones which cease looking for their fix in the material and which, therefore, lead to the inevitable conclusion that there is more to life than what is so apparent in 3D. This is the very breakthrough we, as a collective, are looking for; the golden prize at the top of the high striker, the one that rings the bell and drops everybody’s jaws as we make it there together.
So, as ever, I am quietly optimistic as groundedness brings its inevitable, quiet, gifts (I remember that part too). Because, in a world pulled back, made quiet, turned darker, slower and “supposedly” more limited, new possibilities start to appear, padding in with their quiet footfall; like the deer that now stroll into abandoned cities and the sheer depth of stars that now light up in the unpolluted night skies.
Last night, I was called to my own doorstep to admire the crescent moon and the dazzle of Venus, side-by-side together for the naked eye to see…plus so many more stars that (as they have for a few nights now) seemed brighter than I could ever remember them except when in some west country idyl far from the urban streetlights. I can tell you, here in this urban corridor between tightly-packed places that form part of the growing monster that is Greater London, this is quite the gift. A whole cluster of those stars were in a shape that drew my eye, both then and when I saw it again on the photograph that I managed to take, on a free-held camera. I was oddly fixated by the sight and came back to study it later.
The word “Pleiades” rang out so clearly in my head, though I have never been one for recognising star formations (being the urbanite…) so I was impressed with myself for somehow knowing this when I was later proven right by an article that spoke of the “holy trinity” of Venus, moon and Pleiades that could be seen in that’s night’s sky. This phenomenon, too, comes of those times where we are forcibly pulled back from our usual resources and asked to dig within; we find we know so much more than we realised, that we have resources we never paid attention to before, that we are far more than the sum of our external attributes, and so on. I’m still astonished to have seen this star formation so clearly from my very own doorstep but then certain things that are important to us (though we are are not quite sure, in ways we could articulate, why they are so important to us…) have a way of coming back to us, finding us right where we are, by our own front door, when we most need them at these times. This thing I know so very well for myself; has been the gift of my last decade or so and, truly, of my whole life to discover so many resources were there all along.
In the morning, I pulled back the shutters and, with bleary eyes, realised the two rounded birds gazing on my neighbour’s lawn were not overgrown pigeons but a pair of partridges. This may not sound so very astonishing to anyone who lives in the countryside, or even in my case given I live within strike of open fields, but then if you were to see the amount of traffic (normally…not this week) on my road you would quickly understand why our side of the road see so little of the wildlife that roams just a few hundred feet away in the farmers’ fields with their no-trespassing signs bordered by a road with a 24-hours a day “zim-zim” of vehicles that ignore the speed limits. The simple joy of having these kinds of creatures come to the threshold of your home is hard to explain unless you’ve been there; a longing made manifest across all the years of telling yourself you live in a “natural” place yet where the obstacles to full immersion are as deadly as they are oppressive and relentless; but not right now, not in this moment of blessed and tranquil release from their grip and just the sound of the birds and the breeze to fill-up this Sunday morning.
The rewilding of our urban spaces (see this article for images of the current urban-roaming deer, monkeys, wild boar and more) is a clue; a giant metaphor for what we let in when we do the kind of “stopping” that looks like being grounded…and is a reminder why groundedness is so very good for us. We need it, are overdue for it; time for all the artificial boundaries that have been made so abhorrently oppressive in our world to be softened and for new perspectives to be allowed in, to allow a true mingling of ideas, the best of the best, seen from a much wider angle, a far bigger picture, a brand new view from way-out beyond. Its only with one foot on the floor as the other strikes out into these new spaces that we hold ourselves in balance…in check…in a state of anchoredness and expansion all at once and can then make that long stretch into the unpredictably new, to make strides that take us into places far beyond our narrow boundaries and into something fresh (that part I can speak for too; the more grounded I am, the more I get to exceed my previous limitations). And its in allowing some of those things to meet us where we are; to cease wanting to control everything we think we own and to allow that all of this experience of life is for sharing, for pooling, for meeting half way…these are the kinds of breakthrough that await us when we take the pause and do the inner-outer, outer-inner work of it all.
Which is why, oh beautiful paradox, it is often at times when we are most grounded that we suddenly take off and fly!
Related post on Living Whole Religious practice to get us through (no, not what you think)
I have also begun a daily discipline of taking/sharing uplifting photos every day since the start of my lockdown – you can view the growing Lockdown Love collection here.