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Most people have anchors, something that is a secure mooring in life. It can be something close, like the family, the home or the job. It can be a friend, or a club, or church.

It's something that anchors you, something fixed against which you can see where you stand in relation to life and the world. It's the kind of deep knowledge, where you know in your bones that "regardless what happens I'll still have my family" or whatever the anchor might be. In some ways it defines identity. We can say "I am..." and then we add the anchor.

Anchors don't need to be real, either. It could be a dream, an ambition, or an ending to something that's unpleasant right now. An anchor can be something that isn't real, but which you have cast out into the future, and secured there. "In five years time, I'll be..." is an anchor, just as much as "I work at the Brattflunk workshop" or "I am Maria's husband and Tomas' dad".

If you have an anchor, you know where you are. If you should drift away you can always pull on the chain of it to find the way back.

Most of the time, you don't think about them. That's the whole point, that they're there and fixed and you can take them for granted.

But sometimes the chain breaks, and the anchor is lost. If you're lucky, you can hear it creak before it snaps, and you might find another. If you're really unlucky, it'll break when you need and trust it the most, when you're pulling the chain to find your way back.

You can be made redundant, or hear your partner or spouse ask for a separation or divorce, or lose your home in a fire or flood, or...

When a personal tragedy strikes, people react differently. Those who take it hardest are not necessarily weaker than others, they might just have lost an anchor. Those who haven't been anchored to whatever they've lost often find it easier to accept what's happened and move on.

Having an anchor is a great support, but also a liability. It's a sign you aren't secure in yourself, that you need something to hang on to. And they're very common, as few people don't feel they need some sort of anchor. Mum. Home. God. The forest walks. The football club. When I've written that novel.

Things that are central, that you never really see because they're taken for granted. Things your selfimage are orbiting. Things you don't question.

If you're unhappy with who you are, or where you are, you can consider different alternatives, different things you can change. I've written about that before. You can try to change the five external aspects of your life - your work, home, family, leisure time and friends. Doesn't that cover it all?

But when you think about them, you don't do so without reservations. You tend to try to keep your anchors. The question is if you have to, or if it might be that without changing your anchors all change will be superficial.

And that's the change that's hardest to make. To break the bonds.

If you move to another place, or change jobs, or start taking evening classes in basket weaving... Yes, that can be change enough. Sometimes. For a while.

But if you have internal tensions external changes won't work, except, perhaps, momentarily.

That's when you have to take a look at your anchors, and think the unthinkable.

For even if an anchor doesn't have anything to do with your current situation, they can still hold you. What would mum say? What would I do with all my books and films and things?

You limit your range of choices to avoid risking your anchors. Because you know where you have them. Regardless of what happens, I can always be sure that she will be there for me.

Well, perhaps. But wouldn't it be better to get rid of that anchor? To not demand that she'll be there, but simply accept that she is, more often than not. To not worry about losing it.

They might have a point, those Buddhists.


The ideal is to be strong enough to not need any anchors. At least no external ones, tied to a place, a person, a time, or something like that. To just be anchored in yourself. Regardless of what happens, you know who you are.

To be unanchored doesn't mean you're drifting aimlessly, that you have no ties. It just means you're not depending on the ties. If one is broken you can be glad for what you had while you had it, and still accept it's gone.

That's easy to say. Harder to believe. Harder still to live up to.

And yet, it's something everyone could do. If they dared.

All change is difficult. That's well known.

You tend to try to avoid it, to limit the extent of it. You wait for the right time, the right circumstances. Then, then, when it's like so and so, then I'll make the change. But there won't be a right time. It'll never be like so and so, and if it should be, there'll be other conditions you'd like to see fulfilled.

There'll always be a better time later.

That's another anchor. One day, when the time is right, I'll make that change.

When is the time right?

It never is. You know it, but you hope that against all experience it will be. Some time.

That's the first anchor. Let go of that. There'll never be a right time.

And if you think about it, that means there'll never be a wrong time either. You might as well to it right away.

Bosun! Put an axe to that anchor line!


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