The importance of Anchors

Recently I finished It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini and was introduced to the concept of "Anchors" which I thought was pretty cool and worth sharing.

Ned's concept of an Anchor is something constant in your life that makes you happy. Really happy. Something you can retreat back into when life becomes difficult or overwhelming.

In the novel, the protagonist Craig (based closely on Ned's own life) is a teenager from Brooklyn New York who experiences depression. Often overwhelmed by the most routine daily tasks (eating, sleeping, attending school, socialising with friends) Craig discovers the simple act of drawing clears his mind, reduces his anxiety and keeps him anchored when the outside world feels hostile and out of control. 

I don't think one needs to experience clinical depression to appreciate that life, at times, is difficult. We're all, equally, faced with a constant barrage of problems that need to be overcome one after the other. Some small (how do I pass this exam? How do I meet this ridiculous deadline?), some big (how do I deal with the end of this relationship?) and some truly horrible (how do I deal with this illness? How do I deal with the death of my parents?). Life at times can feel like a series of problems strung together, and we need Anchors in our life to help get us through

It's Kind of a Funny Story has helped me identify my own Anchors. Mighty Ape, nzflatmates and Twosome are Anchors in my life that make me happy, and that I enjoy retreating to and spending time on. Plotting and building new features, projects and websites is exactly the same. The creation process is an Anchor. My cafe breakfasts that I enjoy all on my own, with a book, a notepad and my iPhone is an Anchor too. I wouldn't trade this time with myself in the morning for anything in the world.

I think everyone should take the time to identify Anchors, and most importantly, to prioritise them and protect them from the busy-ness of everyday life. Anchors can be pretty much anything. When I think around my friends, I see friends who are Anchored in their business. Friends who are Anchored in creating music. Friends who are Anchored in photography and design. Friends who are Anchored in religion and faith. Friends who are Anchored in building and creation of things. If you're really lucky (or young/brave enough to choose again) you can even turn your Anchors into a career...become a musician, an artist, a photographer, a designer, a priest, an architect, a builder.

Of course, it's tempting to think of people as Anchors. After all, it's the people we love and the relationships we enjoy that make us happiest of all. But people cannot be Anchors. That is not the point of Anchors. In fact, it's people and the volatility of human relationships that make the very notion of Anchors so important and necessary in the first place. Whether separated by choice, circumstance, or death...the people in our lives are anything but constant.

"People don't make good Anchors, though, Craig. They change. The people here are going to change. The patients are going to leave. You can't rely on them."

I thought this was a neat concept and worth sharing. It's obvious, but not. I've seen people become frustrated with trivial things and cut their Anchors when they've needed them most. Anchors are important. You might not need them today, but you might need them tomorrow.

posted by Dylan on 22 April 2014, 6:55 pm in ,