I didn’t know what peace really meant. When I was young it meant a very small portion of something as there were eight of us to share and as kids our piece was always small. I figured out the difference as I grew up. As a teen it came in the saying “Peace, man”. There was “give peace a chance” that John Lennon said in the 60’s, from a bed holed up in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel with Yoko Ono in Montreal, Quebec.
I remember visions of the symbols worn by everyone around their neck on a thin strip of leather with the 3 lines connecting in the middle like a “y” within a circle. There was also the two finger expression held up to look like a bunny in a shadow but had nothing to do with furry little creatures. I knew this was about the war in Vietnam and why I had seen Americans holding placards in sit-ins on the news when I was young. They spoke of some who ran away to Canada so they would not be forced to fight against their will. These were principled people but some just called them cowards and traitors. I get that this world is still not a peaceful place, we can all work on that.
Today I am thinking about the peace one feels with not a worry in the world. I didn’t know this calm existed until I was in my forties. My mind was always so full and busy. Busy with worry, fear, plans, and the over-responsibility of my life from my home of origin. There were also the things to do as well as the things I had not done or done badly. Some of these were – poor choices, judgment, anger, resentment, bitterness, confusion and sadness. Even at times there were joy, fun and love however fleeting. I spent much of my time believing I was helping or fixing other peoples problems, instead of focusing on my own. I was only filling my mind with busy work and they generally never took my advice anyway. They may not have even asked, actually.
It took me years to recognize that the quiet in my mind is true peace. I was told that was what “peace of mind” was. When it first occurred in brief moments, it was a strange feeling. I am not all that sure that I liked it and it certainly made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Countless times over the years I tried to achieve this foreign state through meditation, to no avail. There was never room for the stillness peace needed. I had to give up a lot to get there.
Mostly I had to give up control. There was the control of the past, present and future as well as the control of other people, places and things. Past resentments and unhappiness needed to leave as well. This was not an easy feat, but well worth the effort. I had some help from others along the way to clear the wreckage of that past.
I had so much more room for me. This was a very scary thought and undertaking. Who was I? What did I want? How did I feel? There was room for new questions and the expanding space for the answers. With this came acceptance, of my past and present. The acceptance of other people and situations came easier. Acceptance of all of my choices, not judging them as good or bad, as I was where I needed to be at the time I made them. Most of the time I leave others to themselves unless asked, and they are all the better for it. Mind my own business, I say.
Serenity came when I no longer looked for it. Today I notice when I have lost it for brief moments in time, then crave to put things to rest quickly to be settled back into the peace of peace.
Today I live in peace more than not and don’t want for much else. Yes, a roof over my head and food in my belly, of course. Clothes on my back and shoes on my feet are necessary in the climate Canada gives freely. But without the peace I feel in my mind I would hardly notice the gifts in my life let alone appreciate and be grateful for all that I have. Peace of mind has given me an extra large piece of life to cherish, which has become a large part of who I am. I couldn’t be more grateful for peace than I am today.