Drew P A Smith



That’s my word for 2023. In a year in which my life – and ours collectively – is bound to be jus’ a l’il fucked up, it seems a strange word on which to land. Like, why pick a word that – in my minds eye – sets me up, like an Atlantic lighthouse, to be buffeted by the storm. Why not pick a word – I dunno, like peace or light or equanimity – that gives me permission to float above it all or stand at some distance from it?

There’s a moment on any rollercoaster where, having shot hard up, you reach a crest. Every fibre in your body tells you that momentum will carry you clean off in to space, the cars wrenching themselves free from the track. There’s no way, you think, that you’ll change direction quickly enough.

But the way those cars are hooked to the track mean you’re hooked deep in to the ground. Although you’re up in the air, a superstructure of steel and concrete conspires to pull you back to Mother Earth. So you race down the other side of the crest, exhilarated, disbelieving, pulling in to the station a little breathless, a little wild-eyed. But safe.

Unlike a theme park rollercoaster, there will be no getting off the rollercoaster of 2023. So out you go again, a little safer in the knowledge that all that steel and concrete will keep you you tracking true through to 2024.

That’s being grounded.

As an enneagram 7, in preference to looking the realities of present life in the face, I look to the future. I imagine different states and enter altered ones. It’s part of what makes me good at my job. It’s part of what’s informed my social identity. And in managed moderation, neither of these things are bad. 7s are known as The Enthusiasts, and w’ere described as “excitable, spontaneous, curious, optimistic, eager, outgoing, future-oriented, adventurous, variety-seeking, quick, and talkative.” When we’re on form, we’re pretty cool people to have around.

But when we 7s loose ourselves, we tend towards being “scattered, distracted, restless, impatient, thrill-seeking, escapist, over-extended, irresponsible, demanding, and excessive.” We’ll do anything – numbing, projecting, distracting – to avoid existential discomfort.

And that’s 100% me when I’m at my worst. In a time of pandemic, war, economic hardship and climate crisis, the potential for me to spin off my own axis is, frankly, terrifying. And very real. I’ve done it before.

So that’s why “grounded” is such an important word for me this year. It’s talks of my superstructure. Not one of steel and concrete, but one of rituals and practices that will keep me connected to the earth, to the things that matter to me, and to the communities that can support me.

January 3, 2023. Amsterdam.