Being the Bird

Janna Sobel
6 min readSep 19, 2019
image by martha sue coursey

Usually I am serious about the morning. The necessity of routine requires all my attention. If I’m doing it right, my morning routine requires getting a good 8–9 hours of sleep prior… but that’s up to the me of yesterday. However disciplined she was or wasn’t, the morning part involves making my bed, drinking a big glass of water, taking a cold shower, doing yoga, eating a healthy breakfast and starting work early. I do these things because they help me to better like being in this weird little human body. When I don’t do them, my back hurts and I get migraines and my ears ring, and all that makes me feel clumsy and sad. So, the routine is important.

But I don’t like it. Every day I want to skip it, and when I don’t skip it, I feel unduly miserable and bored every minute that I’m doing it. I don’t know exactly why this is… maybe it’d due to the adult ADD I was finally diagnosed with last year. That would make a lot of sense, from what I understand about the ways that brain chemistry reacts to novel things vs. routine things. When I’m feeling mean, I tell myself the routine is hard because I’m lazy and undisciplined. But I think it might be something else. Something that I find difficult to name, but that has a pretty big pull on my life.

I think there is such thing as a spirit. Or, just that essential life-force part of us that’s nourished by things other than food, work, exercise and rest. I don’t always know how to nourish this part of myself, and so sometimes… often… I feel like this part of me is starving. I think that it loves art, and community, and touch, and dancing, being with loved ones and in nature; sensuous things that light me up beyond reason, but that have no value assigned to them by science or economics, and so can be easily put off. I’m trying lately to be a little more committed to doing these things that bring me inexplicable joy anyway, and to make time for them.

One thing I’m sure my spirit loves is swimming in Lake Michigan in summer. Really, it loves to swim anywhere. I’ll get giddy to the point of tears while backstroking in a public pool filled with peeing kids, looking up at birds swooping through the vast blue expanse. To match those birds, I’ll arch my back and somersault backwards underwater, then twist around to dive down and touch the bottom, then push off and twirl upwards to the sunlit surface with all those…

Janna Sobel

Janna writes and performs, teaches and coaches. She runs the show and the game Find her at