7:30 BELLS: Grounding the Bell Tower

As a writer and artist, I spend hours living in my head. My husband jokes that I spend all day talking to people who don’t exist. This is true. Sometimes, the fires of imagination can take me far away. The bells can lead me on and ever on into the resounding hills.

So what keeps me on this earth I love? Every day, I balance out the time I spend living inside my head by doing things grounded in the body. Here are three specifics.

1. Working with my hands

I make sculptures out of wood. (The photo above is a work in progress.) Carving, sanding, handling something real and solid, anchors me to earth. Because I use sharp chisels, I must stay totally present to keep from cutting myself or marring the wood. Anything you do with your hands which requires your close presence and attention would serve the same function.

2. Connecting to the natural world

I write at a standing desk by the window. There I can look up from imagination and see the birds in the feeder, the wind in the bamboo, the rush of sky overhead. Whenever I can, even bundled in hats and coats, I work outside. 

3. Moving my body

While walks help, even then my thoughts can wander to my creative projects. When I used to walk on treadmills, I read—more head work. Instead of the sweaty, noisy gym, I now do expressive dance daily at home alone to music. Reaching, swaying, bending—in response to the emotions evoked by the music, unobserved by anyone, grounds me. And after working long hours at the computer, dancing exercises my upper body in a way a treadmill can’t.

Being grounded in my body helps me feel alive. Although it doesn't make the bells ring like the fires of imagination do, it supports that wild ringing. It brings me home from the hills to tend the body that makes all the life of the imagination possible. It gives the bell tower a firm foundation.

Ground the bell tower in the earth 
so the bells can ring

7:30 BELLS is posted every Tuesday. 
Join me on February 11 for a 7:30 BELLS Guest Post by Newbery Honor author Margarita Engle.