In a 1979 Latham’s Quarterly article, Hunter S. Thompson gave advice on maintaining sanity- he described his breakfast routine, which he engaged in regardless of location or situation, saying:
“Anyone with a terminally jangled life needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours.”
I like that phrase: “terminally jangled.” It’s so much more descriptive than the ubiquitous “stressed.” Jangled calls to mind an untidy mess of broken guitar strings, twanging discordantly every time jostled. Know that feeling? When the little jostles are impossible to deal with?
We’re all terminally jangled here. Everyone I know has more on their To Do List than they can possibly manage–mine has become a drooling, thrashing monster under my bed–I lie awake at night and imagine it splitting and multiplying, like the experiment from some midnight double-feature science fiction movie. The dream of that peaceful life–slow, sun-dappled mornings with coffee and a novel–seems to have been stolen from a commercial to sell table linens.
Yep, terminally jangled.
That’s why I like the idea of a ritual–any ritual–to use as an anchor. I’m not about to propose that Hunter S. Thompson become your next lifestyle guru. I can do without imaginary kamikaze bats, thanks all the same. But I could use an anchor, something to turn the whirling centrifuge of my brain into something a little more peaceful, a little more manageable.
I don’t have a sun-dappled piazza to laze around, nor the time to spend hours relaxing into a novel. But I can find five minutes during which I can sit quietly, watching the clouds roll in on this stormy Monday morning, and drink my coffee.
And that will suffice.