Walking my dog the other morning, I strolled mostly in silence, pondering the beauty of the park around me. But in the background, almost like white noise, my thoughts whirled like a ceiling fan above my head, going around and around about things that have been stressing me this past week. And then suddenly it dawned on me like the rising sun: I’m in charge of my inner peace.
It’s mine, and it’s not for the taking.
There is nothing that can have it – and no one who can have it…unless I give it away. And it’s quite clear that I do that all the time. Don’t you?
My wife and I went to the local movie theater to catch a romantic comedy (her favorite genre of film) and I happened to turn around to see a huge movie poster in the lobby. 2012: We Were Warned. Coming November. My mind began to spin. I became hot under the collar. What the…? I was taken aback, caught flat-footed, that someone would take what promises to be humankind’s most incredible opportunity to create peace and turn it into the biggest disaster film ever.
And then I came to my senses. That’s what Hollywood does. The movie theater is our closest version of Star Trek’s holodeck, a simulated reality facility onboard the starship Enterprise, where we purposely give away our peace and consciously choose to experience fear, or at least a two-hour spike in adrenalin.
And truthfully, it’s not that different than what we do every day, in shorter bursts of time, usually unconsciously. We are faced with a family member or colleague who is embroiled with rage, confronting us and wanting us to join the experience. Rather than walking away, we usually comply. We match the emotion. We get angry and, before we know it, our peace is long gone and we don’t even realize that we’ve willingly given it away.
That’s the realization that came to me while walking my dog in the park the other day. We have the choice in this moment to be in peace or to not be in peace. The trick is to be conscious that we have the choice, and to be willing to stand up our inherent right to be peaceful, regardless of the situation, regardless of who is asking us to surrender our peace.
Remember: It’s not for the taking.
We have been asleep at the wheel for the most part, and we take it for granted that relinquishing our peace is just life. We have expressions for it, that so and so knows how to push my buttons. However, the truth is that in this situation, we are doing the button pushing. We are choosing to engage. The question is whether we have the power to withstand the temptation to be drawn into the drama. Maybe we feel as if we are powerless, that the emotional strings between us and other people have become so tangled that there is no way out.
To be honest with you, I have felt called to read a number of new books on emotional intelligence, but I haven’t done so yet. Perhaps the answer lies there.
Or perhaps the answer just comes with waking up, being conscious in the present moment that you do have the power.
If someone walked up and tried to take your car away, you’d fight tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. But if someone walked up and threatened your peace, 99 times out of 100 you would just give it away.
Claim it. Protect it. Focus on keeping it. It’s yours.