The True Meaning of Peace

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by Moreah Vestan

What am I willing to do or to give up in order to have more serenity in my life? When is that selling out? When is that good self care? I noticed last week that I'd recycled the cardboard box that my new 19" monitor came in. I also observed that the $50 rebate coupon required the UPC symbol from the box. After some going-nowhere self-talk about keeping better track of coupons and requirements, and how I could have treated myself with that $50, I was able to let it go. Since there was no way I was able to reclaim that box, what good would it do to bemoan my oversight (gentle self-talk)/ negligence(harsher self-talk)?

I know myself to move fast, to multi-task, to have piles of papers to sort and file, and those experiences don't necessarily promote keeping track of all the details. So if it's worth it to me, I can consciously and deliberately focus on one task at a time and have a system that doesn't allow going to the next project until I complete what I'm doing now. If I acted that way, the rebate coupon would've been dealt with the day I got the monitor. Now I admire that level of organization, but to be there, I would feel like a horse with blinders, like a track star forced to walk, or an assembly line worker who could not deviate from the routine. Since I know myself to be somewhat impetuous, changing directions sometimes even before I've left the barn, I've chosen to live with and even embrace how I express myself. It takes much less effort than straight-jacketing the inner free spirit.

What price for a free spirit? Name the price—I'll pay it. Yes, I may have to buy another stapler or more scotch tape because they're nowhere around. I might have to print out another copy of what I know I printed out this morning. I may even have to replace the book I need to return—even though I'm sure it was in my hands just last week. I'll probably do a big search for my will, my insurance papers or my doctor's report, and rant at all the time it's taking me. But what is, is.

I do have a wonderful manual system for organizing all my papers, thanks to my friend Douglas. And when I'm current with it, I can find the exact page I want in seconds. But when I'm on a roll, going from one fascinating web site to another, it'd be too much like paddling with the anchor in the water if I needed to put away each piece after I printed it or took a quick note on it.

One help for my peace and equilibrium is a spiral notebook. When I'm moving fast with my hands or mind and am sidetracked by the recipe in the Sunday paper or the review of a book I just must read, I can quickly jot it in my 70-page notebook. If I'm in low gear, I'll take the time to put it on the page where I've made similar entries. If I can't be bothered, because I'll feel like a runner who has to start out new at the stop light, I'll just write a quick note on the current page to come back to at some future date (or never). I've never figured out the perversity of my inner rebel (or whoever is running the show at the moment) that will have me put a note on a scrap of paper instead. How many times do I have to lose a 2" X 3" paper before I insist on jotting it in the notebook?

The common theme around keeping my peace is accepting what is, and letting go of everything else. It's raining—ok, a movie instead of a picnic. Someone threw a bottle through my roomer's window. The police report was filed, and my homeowners insurance is $1,000 deductible. All right, it's on me! I was having fun on my niece's trampoline last week in Minneapolis and I sprained my back. The chiropractor (twice) and ice and time are the only antidotes. I can kick myself by saying "You're 59 and you have osteoporosis; what were(n't) you thinking of!" or I can say "The first five minutes on it sure were fun, and I'm sure glad I still have that active child in me. This was a gentle reminder to think things out a bit more carefully. OK!"

Two roomers not on speaking terms. I know "There's always a solution." So a third acts as mediator, and peace is restored. The heart connection I felt with a man in Vancouver didn't go any further. Oh, well!

When I think of the alternatives—frustration, self-blame, anxiety, restlessness—the inner and outer compromises seem well worth it. Besides, taking deep breaths, being mindful, and going with the flow are simple and effortless. Who cares if I need to replace the floss that's hiding. My inner Pollyanna reminds me the walk to the store is good exercise, and there are more important things to think about. So there!

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Author: Moreah Vestan is a life coach, speaker and writer on personal growth topics--self-discovery, compassionate communication ( , and fulfillment of mind, heart and body. Some of her essays here are in her 2004 book, Pleasures and Ponderings: From Nun to Nudist to Now. She has written a monthly column since 1992 for Seattle's Active Singles Life. She has an M.A. in Adult Education. Moreah is a kid at heart--curious and adventurous, an explorer of people and of life. Moreah Vestan may be contacted at [email protected]

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