on sunday night, my dear friend came to pick up her sweet babe savannah after i had been delighting in her for 4 hours. i usually watch anna at least one sunday night a month so ron and her husband can go to small group, and enjoy their time, not worrying about being 'on time' for a sitter. (also, anna's kind of my best friend and most anticipated play date right now. i tell her a lot of secrets and we laugh and laugh and laugh). when ron walked into my living room she asked me, "when was the last time you've felt peace?"
I responded, "like peaceful or like really, truly, totally at peace with life?"
she said, "the second one."
whoa. if i have to think of a day, i would say about 4 years ago. if i have to think of a season, jeesh. longer. the summer before my senior year of college maybe. this made me realize that it has been a really, really long time. now, don't get me wrong, there have been times where i 'feel peace about a decision' or 'peace in a shitty day', etc., but like real, soul soothing peace in the day to day??
ron and her husband went on to talk to me about quote un-quote, peace-robbers. things like 'comparison', 'jealousy', 'lust', 'worry', 'anxiety'. you know, the things that keep you up at night. the things that distract you in conversation with other people or while you're at work. the things that make you want to 'get out of your head' or 'just stop feeling'.
i've been thinking about this now for the last 4 days. what it was like when i remember being peaceful. why i don't have that, or don't choose that now. i reflect on that summer. the summer i often playfully call my 'coming of age'. that summer. that summer was....a clustercuss. it was beautiful and awful and i felt everything. i lived with two of my dearest friends. the kind of friends where you can be all the ugly you need to be, if it helps. i remember a distinct conversation around our dinner table one night (it was rare that we were all home at the same time), as the sun was setting well past 8:00pm. i had gotten home early from my shift as a server at a steak house (while currently a vegetarian), linds was mid craft project and took a break to join us for dinner, dinner that brim had cooked in reflection of her recent time in micronesia (chicken and rice- always). brim was talking about how it was so 'peaceful' there. just so peaceful. and how -cough- america was the worst (we all agreed). everyone bustling around, busybusybusy. we talked a lot about those things then. apparently during the conversation i said, "peace is not a lifestyle, it's a state of the heart." (brim reminded me of this later). i had recently returned from africa myself, and found myself sooo irritated on my trip when people would say things like, "i've never seen ANYTHING like this." i wanted to turn to them and say, "um have you ever driven the 1-10 from LA to Phoenix?" we went on to talk about how we can transplant peace into our hearts when there is absolutely nothing peaceful about the life surrounding us. (i miss conversations like these that were so abundant when i lived in azusa).
so what was different about that summer? ...that summer, everything was in limbo. nothing was certain. a lot was at stake. big and scary decisions were being made all around me. i was completely out of control of a lot of situations, except for what was right in front of me everyday. and as much as i HATEhate that, i was so free. nothing was my decision. the biggest decision i made everyday was how long to tan for, and what i wanted to eat before work. (i'm pretty sure i lived on redbull and skittles that whole summer, with the occasional chicken and rice). at work i pretended i was an actress, a different person at every table. (i was kind of a little insane maybe). and you know what? i never felt better. i never laughed harder, cried more freely, said what i thought and made more art.
for a person who constantly lives in the ebb and flow between nostalgia and the 'what if', i often feel incapable of living in the present. restless is a word my friend sar and i use to describe ourselves often. restless is different than a lack of contentment to me. it's an urge, an inner drive forward and backward at the same time (and never settling in one place). i get jealous (a peace robber) of my sweet friends who can be married with their two dogs, same job, cookie cutter house, starting to raise kids and will probably live the same life (give or take) everyday for the next 40 years. how can they do this!!!! and what's wrong with me that i can't? why don't i want these same things that soo many people want. happily want. and happily have.
the only place where i have found that i can be fully in the present moment is when i'm running. and this took practice. this took training. and mindfulness. and choosing. (i also read a book called chi-running which changed my life and how i run). if you run (and want to like running), you should read this book. i'm such a destination person, that when i started running i found myself so inpatient. i chose to combine my 'inability to be in the present' with my new found hobby of running. i told myself to be in every step, every ache, every breath. to just feel it and only be present in that second. it was transformational.
so how do i carry that over? i can't be actively running 24 hours a day just to live in the moment. i am the epitome of 'the grass is always greener'. i'm the girl that buys platinum blonde and dark brown hair dye in the same day, just in case. i want to be everywhere and do everything (at the same time). i don't want to be on 'one journey' called life, i want to be on a million journeys at the same time until i run out of life. i am a dreamer and a wanter and a kindred spirit. i am drawn to people that i want to know fully. i crave connections with people and places, and want to keep them all in my grasp or pockets or art desk drawers. (our world does not work like this). how do you 'release the peace robbers' when you can't stop thinking about someone? when a friendship moves on before you're ready? when you want to change your mind for no good reason? when you have dreams at night that follow you into the day? when the heart wants what the heart wants? when you have feelings that can't go anywhere?
(social media also makes this difficult).
what if we could be completely candid with one another all the time? say exactly what we're feeling. never coy. playful. never wondering. i have to be honest that it would take some of the fun out of it for me. i do well in the uncomfortable places. i do well in the wonder and the wanderlust. in the dreaming. in the 'what if' and 'remember when'.
my friend tom once said to me, "it's not over until we're all dead." i said, "you mean- it's not over 'til you're dead." he said, "no, until we're all dead. then nothing more can happen, with anyone."
maybe that's it. maybe the answer is peace will come fully and completely when i (and everybody else) is dead. in the meantime, i will try to find it here. in the day to day. when i can (and more so, when i want and choose to). i will keep running. i will let my chaos and restlessness bring me peace.
and may you find peace too (if you want it). and if you don't...keep wandering.