Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pervasive Peace?

Anxiety fragments peace. At least, my anxious moments do. Waiting at a traffic light when I am in a hurry will test me. So too will the slow poke ahead. Yet pause for the distinction between peace and happiness best be clear. The pursuit of happiness is aptly phrased. I am in haste because what I want is deemed more necessary than where I am right now. Or worse, I am anxious because my ego is threatened, my reputation is threatened, the photo of me does not show me at my best. Happiness is indeed a fleeting thing dependent on duration. But as for peace? Peace may be experienced as a perpetuation of acceptances within, even when one's happiness is at a dis-ease. So accept red lights. Yet how to be at peace when the car conks?

Journeys depend on our vessels. So too for the plans we make and the images we have of how things might be. Yet reality has a way of putting us in the immediate. Somebody's lawnmower disturbs the summer Sunday peace. Or skydiver planes overhead buzz endlessly. The snarl of a weed-whacker sounds angrily. Or over-heard vulgarities intrude. To get or keep things exactly as  wanted is so fleeting. The first scratch; the first break. The first fight; the first death. Nothing lasts forever. So we collect and contain and control and accustomize ourselves to our lives such that we assume an identity that has its own balance, is its own boat in the sea of humanity. We resent those who rock it. We resent those who peer down at us from their larger yachts. We resent those who bump up against us with their dirty dinghies. We cheerily wave back at the kayakers and the canoe and even the stand-up board. And we marvel at the seals and the otters and the heron on shore and the fish we can see swim by. Some of us stay inordinately tantalized by the desire to catch, to hold onto, to pirate, to usurp, to blare, to win the race; yet others sneak into coves and drop anchor and do not get heard from again. Metaphors and analogies abound. In the traffic of life, whether on the road or at sea, we are wanting a certain peace, a definite happiness; and the security of a vessel of containment in which we may ride as error free as possible is a necessity. For who wants something that needs perpetual fixing?

Sometimes I can see clear through to the ocean floor into the bay before me, like now. From my fourth floor window the sun penetrates the surface and feeds the green kelp and the raccoon-sized rocks. Once we watched a seal, like a living torpedo, explore the cove. It is the heron who is most frequently there, as though a sentinel to the visiting geese and garrulous gulls and busy black crows. Oft there are otters, with their long tails like a wet Labrador dog's. And then the wind will make waves, the sun will move, and the tide will turn. And no longer is there reflection.

The phone jangles and it's the service department for the vehicle! Or is it the heart specialist's office? Or the... Better answer the phone. And the news is not good. And anxiety takes over peace. When a vehicle has 200,000 km it has done a lot of service. When a body is in its seventh decade a lot of parts are no longer reliable. And how long have I got? Will the vehicle I have suffice for the duration of my plans? Does my boat need fixing?  And once fixed, what if there's a major storm? What about the inconvenience to my dependants, my friends, my family?

Anxiety arises out of our inability to predict the future. We are wanting defined certainties and proven assurances that others cannot give. We apply band-aid solutions to our hulls, replace our innards with new belts, new rods and pistons, and put stents in our arteries, and send our vehicles of exploration on their way. But the sea is not clear. And there are rocks awaiting below the surface. And the weather is unpredictable. And there are storms that swirl out of seeming air. It is in the nature of things. And peace comes dropping slow, drip by insightful drip into the grail of the soul, until it is more than half full, so that peace may predominate when the going is slow, or when the vessel is taxed. Happiness, that elusive product of dependability, is appreciated; but peace, that vast sense of intercellular connectivity, pervades all. To be content with what is, is. And so, with what was once today's news, R.I.P? sad Robin.

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