Grounded In Groundlessness

Dylan Jack James
MDI Contributor

I step outside for my nightly walk. A slight chill stirs the air. Summer is closing its doors and autumn is creeping in. The moon seems to float in the black sky like a giant orange beach ball. Its glow lights my way. I hear a rustling noise. A young buck on the front lawn of an abandoned property looks up at me.

I look back at him.

We both stand very still and stare at one another. Fearing his charge, I raise my hands above my head and shout loudly, “Get, get out of here!” He takes off running down the block. I feel bad for shouting at the handsome creature. My ears prick up at the sound of Canadian geese flying overhead. Their honking echoes into the night. I feel small and insignificant in this gigantic universe. Gravity, the only thing holding me to the sidewalk beneath my feet.

I ponder the uncertainty of feeling groundless. The idea of the rug being yanked out from beneath me when I least expect it. 

Recently, someone close to me revealed a secret she’d kept hidden for over 40 years. She’d been a heavy drinker and thought she might be an alcoholic. Shocked, I felt helpless in that moment. Even though I hadn’t known about her secret, once it was brought into the open, the blinders fell off and I saw how her concealed drinking affected my life. It made me feel groundless. It shook up the neat little world I had created, and it didn’t belong there.

It wasn’t supposed to enter my space, yet it did, messy and chaotic. 

On a separate occasion, Sharon, another friend whom I considered to be honest and kind, told me she had cancer. We shared many long phone conversations about mortality and suffering. It pained me to know she was so sick. She informed me of the hospital she was going to be staying in and said she would call after her scheduled surgery to let me know the outcome. I decided to surprise her the day before her surgery with a visit. I stopped at the florist and bought a beautiful bouquet to cheer her. I arrived at the hospital and gave the receptionist her name. The woman at the reception desk went up and down the list several times.

“I’m sorry, Sir, there is no listing for that name.” She checked and double checked.

“Did something happen to her?” I became increasingly alarmed as the receptionist called another staff member on the phone. She hung up the receiver and turned to me. “Sir, there was never a patient by that name here, I’m sorry. Maybe you have the wrong hospital?”

I didn’t.

I thanked her and handed her the bouquet. She thanked me with a sad look on her face. I contacted a mutual friend of Sharon’s and mine. “Have you heard from Sharon, Tom?” I asked.

“Yeah, she was just here last night for my birthday party.”

“Did she seem OK?” I inquired, quite confused.

“She’s fine, got drunk and slept one off on the couch in the rec room.”

“What the hell?” I thanked my friend telling him I hadn’t heard from Sharon in a while. I dialed Sharon’s cell phone the next day. When I said hello she became deathly silent. “How did the surgery go?”

“The doctor says the cancer spread and I’m really scared!”

“Really, well that’s very strange. I went to the hospital to visit you yesterday and was told that there was no such patient there with your name. I called Tom and found out you were at his birthday party.” She stumbled over her words not knowing what to say. After gaslighting me for a while, she admitted she was lying and did it for attention and sympathy. 

The bottom once again dropped out from under me! Groundless!

Financial woes, illness, disasters, unemployment, infidelity, divorce, lies. Life is unpredictable.

Chaos and uncertainty slaps us in the face when we least expect it. This can be bewildering, but it’s how we handle it that matters. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught: “The only constant in life is change.” I find peace and purpose in my life despite uncertainty. So I’m ready, bring it on! I’ll hug the shit out of it and move with it.

Like the changing of the seasons, I transform and accept that this is just the way life is and I find certainty.

Being grounded in groundlessness.

5 thoughts on “Grounded In Groundlessness”

  1. Thanks for this – your – perspective on groundlessness, especially when it comes around from left field, out of nowhere, Dylan.
    It’s been great watching you working and growing creatively! Thank you for your friendship.

  2. Hey Dylan, I can relate to the groundlessness you must have felt showing up to the hospital flowers in hand and leaving empty handed, figuratively and literally. I was excommunicated from my natural family for many years and when I finally reached the point of not letting the fear of disapproval control what I did, I went searching for my grandmother. I had a general idea of where she might be living so I searched and called everyone with the same name until I found one. Her husband had the same name as my grandfather. I was so excited I had found her. I bought a dozen long stemmed roses and showed up at her door. I rang the bell and a little old Italian lady opened the door. I was crushed, but also in disbelief. I stood there still. Inside I knew it wasn’t her but I tried to make it so, if you can understand what I mean. Anyway, she was very sweet. I told her who I was and why I was at her door. I gave her the roses. She didn’t want to take them at first but then when she saw the pain in my face and disappointment, I guess she didn’t have the heart to refuse again. I apologized for disturbing her and left – empty handed and groundless.

  3. Wow, Linda, that’s some story about you and our grandmother. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *