• Dr. Jill Bakke

Living in a Shattered World

In the shattered world we live in, many of us are searching for answers. Even those of us who are anchored in faith seem tossed about on a surface that is like “playing ball on running water,” a phrase I lifted from a book I read long ago. Nothing seems firm and dependable. Time appears to have accelerated. Challenges (I refuse to call them “problems.”) seem to multiply quicker than I or anyone can solve them.

Some days I want to stop the world and get off, but not permanently. I happen to like living on Earth with its beauty and companionship. So those days when I feel overwhelmed I take “zombie days.” On zombie days, I resign from being Jill the problem solver, the fixer, the busy one, the matriarch of the clan. I find time to nap. I watch an episode or two or three of Criminal Minds, my current escape show, and most of all I put aside all the tumbled, jumbled thoughts and simply write.

While most mornings I typically crawl back in bed, propped up with pillows and my first cup of coffee to spend an hour or two reading or writing, zombie days are different. These are days I step outside of time. Often, they are the days that create poetry with my words and bring different viewpoints to my problems.

Not only is the writing different, less directed, freer, the whole atmosphere of the day is different. I end up blowing off a webinar I had registered to attend and sometime later decide I also don’t need to view the replay posted on the web. While I always feed the birds shelled peanuts in the morning, when I am the zombie I sit and watch them eat as I have the first cup of coffee. I let the phone go to its message-taking mode. My rhythm slows, and I disconnect from the crazy matrix called life that we have plugged into.

I realized as I write this that I had always created zombie times, although I hadn’t named them. Because of my work schedules, being a zombie couldn’t happen long term like it can now, but I could manage smaller segments of time that allowed for renewal. Even in the calmer world of the 1990s when I moved to New Jersey, I took zombie time to drive to a pristine beach area on the Atlantic Ocean. I would walk in the surf, not always looking but simply listening and feeling the sand and water swirling around my feet and tasting the salt air on my lips.

Later when I was working a full-time job and teaching afterward, I didn’t often have the time for this journey. Still, my desire for time swimming in the bay or simply being at the ocean remained strong. Fortunately, I had rented a place, a shack really, whose roof sometimes leaked, and which required I cart home drinking water from the grocery store. But it was located almost totally alone at the end of a long sand road. The air conditioning worked well, my bed was comfortable, and I could walk out the door and put my feet in Barnegat Bay. I was content. Just being there created zombie time.

Then a little house in a sweet location went on the market and became mine. It sat on a dead-end street. Across lay wild, uninhabited green land, and it was on a creek that flowed into the bay less than a hundred feet from my dock. Here the zombie times came as I watched the fog creep across the bay and the wild hibiscus bloom along the waterline. It also arrived when I took my Boston Whaler out for a run and came home feeling invigorated and free of all those minor aches and pains I sometimes got.

Over the years I have discovered that wherever we are there is always a way to find the contentment we seek. But there is one major facet we must employ. We need to be in the NOW.

There are many methods to give us peace and renewal. Yours may be totally different than mine. But, universally, it requires a focus on the task at hand to the exclusion of the confusion around us. It is that act which brings relaxation and contentment. Weeding a garden, scrubbing a floor, or relaxing in the warmth and scent of a bath have brought me answers that the act of seeking could not bring. When I stop struggling for an answer and just relax, the answers come. It also helps to quit worrying about what we cannot control and instead simply follow our heart.

Time controls our thoughts and acts.

Don’t look into the future

And focus on your dreams there.

In remembering the past

Don’t wallow in its events.

To be at peace requires

Moving outside of time

And living in the moment,

So that working or playing

Innovations surface

And contentment fills our cup.

May you each find your way in this hectic world to islands of contentment.

Blessings and love,


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