I’ve been away – emotionally and mentally. This fall season, though visually stunning, has also been painfully poignant as well as generously compassionate, a bit puzzling. . . and educational. During this hiatus I scrambled for emotional balance – searching for ways to honor my own losses and unravel some confusion while also striving to live more fully in the present – but I just couldn’t seem to find my footing. Maybe it’s because the past eleven months my work has placed me squarely in the tender beauty and unbelievable pain of the lives and deaths of children; maybe it is because my own son died one distant September night; maybe it’s because the Fall is so often a messy time of endings and beginnings; or. . . oh yeah, maybe it’s because of technical difficulties. My computer went into Hospice care. . . in the middle of finishing a story, no less . . . and terminated soon after. Though I refused to hold a memorial, I did mourn her final technical breath and the program she took down with her. So, I’ve been on the sidelines – reading watching, thinking aloud and writing for others. But now I feel stronger and it’s time for reentry. Returning into the swing of my world is a bit like jumping back into the rope flow of a double-dutch game. I have to time my leap, ease in, so I don’t disrupt the rhythm of the turning ropes. It’s an in-touch thing – a balance thing.
Eckhart Tolle wrote: When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Over the last months I lost touch with my own peace, Tolle’s stillness, and with it, my equilibrium. It crept up on me, this disquiet, so when I finally turned around to look, there it was. . . just waiting with a message: Breathe! Lighten up and stop trying to control everything! I heard it at the end of a yoga class where I had just repeated with bowed head and folded hands: The love, light and peace in me bows to the love, light and peace in you. And I listened. Not long after, I also listened to something else. During a communication with a bereaved parent, my understanding of the importance of peace was questioned. This person felt that, considering the many other options life holds, peace is an overrated state of mind. What?
You see, in my work, where I listen as deep heartaches unfold layer by layer, and then am trusted to translate all the layers from spoken into written stories to honor children who have passed, I need to know there is a space of grace, of peace, always available to hold me. My heart, mind and spirit have to be able to detach from the chaos grief ultimately generates – the sadness, anxiety, regret, depression, confusion, fear. It is disconcerting to consider there just may be something better than being in a peaceful state of mind or that even during my leisure, being at peace could somehow stop me from recognizing and enjoying play. Really, could it be? Is Peace Overrated?
I used the fall season to stop and chew on some uncomfortable questions: Do I seek peace at the expense of other, more delicious states of mind? Am I missing out by settling for calm and stillness? Does seeking peace cause me to sidestep situations that call for assertive behaviors? Is peace just another word for denial or passivity?
Because I think almost as much as I feel, I checked out not just my own but also the factual and understood concepts of peace. According to online and hard copy resources, Peace means a state of calm and relaxation; freedom from disturbing emotions, worry and hostility. It is synonymous with harmony, rest, serenity, tranquility, goodwill, love and stillness. Peace is the state of a contented mind. It is a longed-for condition, salve for a world in turmoil and the hope of its people. Using these understandings, I intentionally began to live the realities of each of my questions. And here are my personal discoveries.
First and foremost, peace is still my number one, go-to state of mind.
Peace is active, not passive. It doesn’t hesitate to assertively take a stand, speaking truth guided by love. It listens actively, unafraid of what it will hear; and it intentionally involves itself in situations without hostility.
Peace is a balanced state of mind. It fosters equanimity, that quality that supports the unconditional and willing acceptance of the joyous, the arduous, and the uncomfortable. Peace assures that we have what is needed to operate confidently and positively in both adventure and chaos.
In its fullness, peace supports positive detachment. It opens a space for grace after the firm and frequent reminders that life moves to its own beat without our permission. Struggling to change the past is a waste of time; instead, peace promises the acceptance of the realities of what is present – right here, right now. It implores us to believe we have the strength to acknowledge the ugly and the beautiful . . . and still move forward.
It’s an ongoing journey – this peace-seeking thing. But, for me, well worth it because I’m a happier, stronger, kinder and more centered person when I let myself be in its midst.