Losing Anchor, Losing Center

As I sailor, it’s easy to recognize when I’ve “lost anchor” in my day-to-day life although it creeps up on me quietly without warning.  Most days I check off my “to do’s” without hesitation but sometimes it seems like all I’m doing is moving today’s list of “to do’s” to tomorrow’s list of “to do’s”.   

I know I’m overwhelmed when I start every sentence with, “I’m sorry, I _________”
• Didn’t call
• Wasn’t aware
• Need to reschedule
• Can’t remember
• Am running late
• Didn’t get to it
• Forgot your name

What’s really happened is I’ve lost my center. I’ve lost my ability to stay in the present moment and not overload my days with meetings, calls, and nonsensical stimulation. It can feel a lot like that unsettled feeling of losing anchor when I’m sailing.

I’m a dobbie so it’s easy to over-commit and sign up for decorating the church at Christmas, bringing personalized cookies to the bridal shower, and raising money for cancer research. All in the same week. From my perspective there are a full 24 hours in the day in which to be doing something and seldom do I factor in sleep.

There’s a reason people are always telling me I put “too much on my plates”. It’s the perfect metaphor. Think of a long, lavish banquet hall in an English castle, perfectly set for 24 with formal china and crystal stemware, every place setting adorned with fresh flowers, glistening silver, and goblets full of vintage red wine. There’s veal, venison, duck and truffles. A lamb carving on one end; a tiered cascade of whole fish on the other. There is a mosaic of vegetables in red, yellow and green; pastries, bread loaves and honey laced with pepper.

And you’re the only one at the table – you’re the only one eating.

This is what it feels to me like when I’ve packed my life to the point that I can’t tell if the sun is rising or setting. There’s no time to digest what I’ve taken in, no time to reflect on all that has shaped my life.

The truth is, I allow this to happen and just like a boat whose anchor has lost its hold, I ram into other boats or run aground in mud and silt. My fear of slowing down and becoming invisible as I age is what drives this.

“Anchors are for sissies” I say to myself as I download another book on my Kindle and vow to start making biscuits from scratch.  Maybe next time I’ll do better by doing less.

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