Years ago, I lived on a sailboat with several other people, which probably sounds more romantic than it actually was.
Quarters were tight, belongings were minimal, and privacy was almost non-existent. Part of me relished this experience, though–racing across the water with the wind in my face was glorious. Still, one of the biggest challenges during this phase of my life was struggling to find any private time. It was hard to find the space to think, or daydream or just wonder about the world. As someone who needs a great deal of privacy, I found this to be a real difficulty. Perhaps it was this training that makes it easy for me now to find daily inspiration, despite the chaos of our world, because I’ve become good at tuning things out.
One morning from this period of my life stands out in my mind as almost perfect.
One quiet morning I slipped off of the boat before dawn, careful not to awaken anyone either on my boat, or on the boats around me. I carried a large bottle of very cold orange juice. I don’t remember where it came from–whether I took it off of our boat, or purchased it at the ship’s store. My feet silently padded down the dock, and then dangled over the dark, swirling water as I sat on the end of the pier. Overhead, the stars wheeled towards daybreak, and I smelled the beginning of a new day. There’s a certain smell, beyond the salt water, that accompanies the birth of a new day on our beautiful planet, and I drew it in, deeply. The breeze shifted as the night ended, and birds around me gently started to stir.
The air felt like velvet, and one by one, the twinkling stars went dark as the sun began to reveal itself. The water quietly lapped beneath my feet. It revealed barnacles on the ebb, and foamy bubbles on the flow,as it gently whirled around the posts of the pier. The universe around me was totally silent, and only the stars were my companions. Then quietly, the magnificent symphony of our awakening world began. Greedily, I drank from the ice-cold orange juice, and its tart sweetness is something I remember, still. All five of my senses were alight that beautiful morning, and filled my heart to overflowing with the simple gratitude of being alive.
Have you ever had such a profound appreciation for a dawning day?
Perhaps not. We get too busy, don’t we? All around us, this very day, millions of people will open their eyes to a world just as glorious as the one I saw that day long ago. In dusty villages, in bustling towns, in noisy cities–in places all over this planet–human beings will wake up to another day.How will they respond, do you think? Many will be surly, resentful either that they have to stop sleeping, or have to start working. They’ll be grouchy and rude, and miss entirely the magic of this gift of life, because they choose to focus on something that makes them unhappy. They’ll wake up anticipating a conflict with someone, or a presentation they need to make, or worrying about a problem they they have in their personal life. Sadly, they’ll focus on something negative that pulls them away from their slumber, and the realization they have been given another day.
Others will wake up distracted and over committed. They’ll rush past the sunrise gently glimmering outside of their window, race past the people they love and live beside, and then start their day in a complete panic. They’ll already feel late for something, even though they may have gotten up before their alarm.
There are dozens of ways to start your day, and you, my friend, are in control of them all.
Our world, unfortunately, now thrives on urgency. We are surrounded by relentless noise, especially from the media. The media tells us both how to think and how to react to world events. Most times, the crises they shout about are far outside of our immediate circle, and don’t actually involve us. We still allow them to create a frightening sense of urgency in us, though. Willingly, we inherit the panic of the survivors they interview.
More often than not, the free time we spend with our loved ones is overtaken by the worry we feel about the changing states of our nation, and world. Most nights during dinner, instead of talking about family goals or memories, we ask one another if we saw that day’s horrific video.
The reality is that many of us have become isolated by our electronics. We are now tethered both to our workplaces, and our relationships, by our telephones.
During my childhood, when a parent came home, his or her workday was over. As soon as the front door closed, the family unit was there–intact. Some families were healthy and some weren’t, but once the door shut–the workday was over. Everyone was connected, to do the best they could as a family. Sadly, in today’s world, work doesn’t stop just because someone has arrived home. Emails usually don’t cease, and parents frequently answer work correspondence while their child bathes after dinner. Bedtime stories are often squeezed in after a parent has scanned work emails, in a desperate attempt to set up the next day’s productivity.
Even though I no longer have a standard office job, I confess I can be guilty of this, too.
As my readership continues to grow, my electronic tools often chirp in response. Whether it’s a comment someone has left, or a new follower on social media, I’ll receive some kind of alert on my phone. It’s happening more and more, and I’m not sure it’s healthy for me, to be honest. I’m afraid that if I actively work for those alerts, I’ll lose the purity of my writing voice.
My writing goal is both simple, and very solid. I want my words to touch a neglected part of your soul, and bring it back to life. I want you to read one of my pieces, and think–for even just a moment–about how you can spread kindness. Or define changes that will actively bring joy to those you love.
To do that, I must fight for a sense of balance. I need to live in our outside world, among the sorrow and brokenness we all face. I’m human, after all, and subject to the same joys and pains you share, too. Yet–I need to maintain the purity of both my introspection and observation. in order to write words of impact.
So starting now, I’m going to put my phone away, outside of my writing hours. I want to spend my time engaging with my husband, because he is precious to me, and helps me find the point of healthy balance that I need.
This morning, I arose again before dawn.
I sat in the safety of my big chair, where I write, and watched the stain of daybreak as our world came to life. I thought about that morning on the pier, when I guzzled my orange juice and listened to the slow heartbeat of creation. Countless people came to my mind this morning as I listened to our day begin. I wondered about these friends from long ago, and where they have landed in life. I wondered about others I know, people who are managing too much, in our world of frenzy.
Importantly, I promised myself that I will take more time to focus on the quiet, despite living in a world that caters to anxiety.
I’m not sure where you are in the world, Friend. I don’t know your specific battles that you face each day, as you try to provide safety and comfort to your loved ones. But I encourage you to join me in this pledge.
Whether you live in a dusty village in a developing nation, or a bustling city in the center of our world’s financial center–you are part of great fellowship. As a human being, you belong to a magnificent group of dreamers, creators and doers.
Despite being one of millions on this glorious planet, you bring to us a beautiful soul and a set of gifts that are unique.
Put away your phone, Friend.
Look up at the sky.
Feel the breeze as it rustles the leaves of the trees nearby.
Get up extra early tomorrow morning, and enjoy–for just an extra moment–the beautiful recognition that you are alive.
You are here, Beautiful.
And we need you.
**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.