What’s Your Secure Base?

Merle HaggardMy mama came to visit me in San Quinton every time she had the money for a Greyhound from Bakersfield.” Merle Haggard’s grizzly old face turned soft and teary in Ken Burns’ documentary on country music. Haggard’s mother was his ‘secure base,’ a metaphor that becomes very real in acrobatics, although I find it harder to be an emotional secure base than to hold people standing on my shoulders.

George Kohlrieser, psychologist and hostage negotiator, says that secure bases are “anchors in our lives – like the earth around the roots of a tree that provides the foundation and strength to protect it during turbulence…Secure bases are primarily people (but)…they can also be countries, pets, beliefs or religion.”

Traveling to strange places, like the protagonist does in The Snow Clown, means you leave your secure bases, open yourself up to new ones and risk losing your old ones. Writing fiction taken from life can feel a lot like traveling to strange places. Writing itself is a secure base for me. So is juggling, so are my wife, my boys, my mentors, Berkeley, Passover Seder, etc.

Who do you securely base? Who and what bases you? How do you recover, even grow, from the loss of a secure base?

Secure base people stack