on traveling

Losing Ground

I’m writing this from the air, a strange place perhaps to write about “ground,” I know, but as I leave my ground in California heading for other places and lands, I recognize the tenuousness with which we tread on this planet. Most of us take our ground for granted, for the place we live is generally something we can count on, perhaps even depend upon. When that tether is severed, or even just stretched to where it’s not as dependable as it once was, it can rattle us internally, as I feel a little rattled now.

Ground is much more than simply the soil, loam or clay upon which we walk and or in which we plant our roots. Ground is that which grants us security, support and connection to a more centered holding place in our lives and can include among other facets:
  • physical dwelling
  • dependable, supportive (and perhaps meaningful) work and sources of income
  • an area or place with historical roots and connections such as a homeland, the place where we’ve grown up, or the community within which we’ve established ourselves
  • dependable, committed, supportive partnership/marriage
  • religion
  • a community of family, friends and acquaintances who provide support and connection
  • political and social stability
  • physical contact
  • physical health
  • psychological well-being

For some individuals, ground may come in the form of a well-stocked larder, a sufficiently full bank or retirement account, dependable transportation, pets, or various other forms of security blankets.

Ground is one of those things in life that we don’t really pay much attention to until it’s gone. In it’s absence, we can become rattled and sometimes disoriented or even panicky. To illustrate, a year after I moved to California, there was a large earthquake there dubbed the Loma Prieta. It caused quite a bit of damage and shut down the Bay Bridge (the path for my normal commute between home in San Francisco and school in Berkeley). I stayed with friends in Oakland for a couple of days after the earthquake before venturing home on an alternate route to find my bedroom in shambles. The reason I bring this story up is that when I drove back to Berkeley for a class group meeting a couple of evenings later, I had a bit of an anxiety attack which rendered me fairly incompetent. Upon driving back home, I was fine, but the anxiety returned a couple of more times upon returning to Berkeley. What I recognized was that I couldn’t any longer depend upon the actual ground I walked on which made me further long for the security of home. My literal ground was no longer ground.

Refugees, divorcees, surviving spouses, children whose parents die, people who lose their homes and/or livelihood, people upon whom befalls a significantly debilitating illness – all of these people are at significant risk of losing their ground, their stability, and ultimately their sanity, for the loss of ground can be sufficiently disorienting to cause mental disarray.

I’ve been feeling the disorientation which comes from a loss of some of the ground in my life. Since I’ve been renting my home out somewhat considerably as a vacation rental, I no longer have my own home/place to settle and relax in to. Compounding that are some financial stresses which have come into my life through an unfortunate business investment I made several years back. A threatened loss of financial security is something, due I believe in part to financial tensions consistently present in my childhood home, that can trigger further anxiety for me and a loss of more ground.

When our ground gets shaken, what I believe we most want is to be in the setting which provides us with the most familiar and supportive environment, so leaving my beautiful sanctuary and ground of familiarity and comfort has been something I’ve been somewhat loathe to do. I’ve been much more inward lately which gets pushed against by the expansive nature of traveling and leaving my home for the summer.

I think there is an entirely different spiritual perspective on “ground,” and what “true ground” might look like, but honestly, I’ve been pulled a little too distant from my inner more spiritual core as of late to be able to articulate that right now. My lack of access to that “inner ground” is very likely a significant precursor to this nagging insecurity and inwardness I’ve been experiencing. I wonder if I’ll find that “anyplace is the best place, and any experience is the best experience” place in me somewhere on this trip.

I’ve now landed in Salt Lake where I’m on a three hour layover due to a delayed flight/missed connection. Feels good to be here. Feeling a bit of the liberation which can come from moving beyond the constrictions of my otherwise anxious mind. Curious to see how it all (and I) unfolds.

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