If you find yourself with a pen in your hand, but you don’t know what to write. If you mean to put down a few lines, but you’re speechless, and you don’t know what to say.

If you find yourself staying in your pajamas for hours, promising yourself that you’ll get up, that you’ll make something happen, but then the day spins away.

If you’ve been unusually down, even though you don’t live near Maine or Gaza or Israel, and you’re not even Jewish or Palestinian, but you’ve noticed a deep grief, and you wonder whether its one thing or many things and whether you can shake it.

If you find yourself refreshing the news app on your phone every five minutes, as though you’re waiting for something to happen, but you don’t know what. Even though you know better, even though you know your phone doesn’t have the answer.

Maybe you burst into tears for no reason. If so, you’re the third person who’s told me that this week. 

Maybe you’ve distracted yourself, as I have, with games of solitaire and a TV show about ranchers in Montana who fight over land and cattle, a show with beautiful panoramas of golden valleys and wild horses. Or maybe you saw a show about 20 women in their 60’s and 70’s who are vying for the love of one man who hands out roses to some, but not to all. 

Maybe you swim, as I do, counting laps, wondering what I’ll have for lunch, or how my mother is doing in L.A., or If I should buy that land in Taos, even though it doesn’t seem very practical. 

Maybe it’s the trees you trust, or the scent of eucalyptus or pine. 

Or being barefoot, or walking with a friend, or gazing at the full moon, or the turmeric garbanzo soup you made for your family last night, or how every time you look at your daughter and her boyfriend, you imagine their children. 

Maybe that’s how you settle yourself in this fireball of a world that feels out of control, where people are hurting each other in terrifying ways, as we speak, right now.

Maybe that’s how you make the pen move across the page. You start with the simple things, the things you love, that you hold close; your children, the trees, the Santa Ana winds that move through California, the phone call last night with your sister, that you made her laugh when a moment before she was crying. 

You know there are larger things looming, and they hurt to think about. How could you not feel them.

You’re a human animal – you feel everything. 

So start with what you love, start there. 

Listen to Laurie read the piece here …