Staying grounded, to me, is synonymous with keeping it real and being who I am. While everything in the world around me shifts and moves, I stay grounded in my sense of self, my notion of me. For a long time I thought that was just about my own story. Luckily though, it’s not and never has been. Instead, staying grounded means knowing what is true for me in my own world and knowing that, no matter what is going on around me.
A lot of folks who read my blog know me for my work in the world. Whether leading workshops, keynoting conferences, writing publications, or consulting folks on their work, I have touched the lives of countless children, youth, and adults around the world. Fortunately for me, my work is what I do—but not who I am. There’s an important difference.
You may have heard me talk about my identities. I am a dad, a friend, a poet, a writer, a speaker, singer, dancer, and driver. I do a lot of things, like garden and hike, fly places and talk with people. I know a few things about many things, and many things about a few things. All of this describes how I use my time and what I value, but it is not who I am.
Some of my friends will read this, people who’ve known me growing up in North Omaha or friends from here in Olympia, Seattle, Taos, Lincoln, New York City, Miami, São Paulo, Sydney, London, and around the world. Some are my chosen sisters and brothers, sharing and supporting me like no others. All my friends know some part of my spirit, my actions, and my heart. Some have lived history with me, whether graffiti-ing, moving houses, sharing good times, or telling stories through pain. This is the company I keep, but they, too, are not who I am.
|What are the pillars of YOUR life?
My family knows me in a certain way, with good holidays, big playing, and loud fights. We moved across countries and states, shared government cheese and devoured Dad’s pancakes, and tell stories about the same places. The first time I became aware of family love was when I held my own niece for the first time, more than 17 years ago; my own daughter, nieces, and nephews give me hope for the world like no other young people. This is the blood that travels through my veins, but it isn’t even who I am.
I stay grounded by knowing who I am.
Don’t get me wrong—I used to be a little scared to say who I am, and haven’t always appeared so self-assured. However, as life has thrown curveballs and sliders at me, I’ve found that this way of being is unfaltering. It’s an assured life, one that leaves me secure in knowing who I am, how I am, what I do, and why I do it.
I am a ceaseless romantic, optimist, eternalist, and utopian. The pillars of my life include naivety, innocence, and childlikeness. I honor simplicity and complexity, and live in paradox. Life is living and living is loving, so life is love. I don’t know a lot, and even when life appears crappy, it is always good to be me.
And that is who I am, those ways of being. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” I regularly assert my simple way in my life, and I’m learning about the company of solitude. In this way, my long life is not so long, and the road looses its bumps and sharp corners.
This is how I stay grounded. How about you?