How to Find Peace

Harmony. Connection. Oneness. These words are often used to refer to humanity; how, if only all people could put away their differences and act as one, the world would be such a better place. Indeed, the world would have a greater chance for survival. So, working on the assumption that what’s good for the world must also be good for each human being, on an individual level, then how can we apply harmony, connection, and oneness to ourselves?

We’re each made up of many “selves”. There are the various masks we wear for different people. There are the multiple voices in our head, often in conflict with each other, telling us how to live our lives. There’s our light selves and our shadow selves; our mind, body, and soul; our need to be and our need to please. Whichever way you look at it, we are fragmented people, and often each fragment is working against the other, which leads to stress, anxiety, depression, and countless illnesses.

How can we get all the parts of our Being to exist in harmony and work as one? First of all, we must acknowledge the presence of each part, no matter how shameful or embarrassing. We must acknowledge and accept it, because as of this present moment, this is all we have to work with. So, one person may be kind and caring, but also self-indulgent and quick-tempered. She could try to hide her negative qualities from the world, or she could be open about them, acknowledge them, and learn how to wield her cravings and passion in a more controlled way. Every individual part of our Being has a purpose; we just need to work on figuring out what that is.

Throughout our lives, we play at being different people, taking qualities we have or ones we pick up along the way, and experimenting with them in various combinations, like a person trying to solve a Rubik’s cube. When we’re young, we try to be more like our peers in order to fit in. As we get older, we try differentiate ourselves in order to stand out. Eventually, we reach a stage where, after much effort, we begin to understand who we really are and stop trying to be someone we’re not.

I strongly believe all the puzzle pieces are there, within each and every one of us. But perhaps they’re not fitting together as they should be. The order is all wrong. Understanding ourselves is only half the battle; figuring out how best to be ourselves, how best to connect all the puzzle pieces together in a way that allows us to be at one with ourselves – that is the real work. Learning how to accept our anger but still control our temper and let go of our grudges, how to use all our pent-up energy to our advantage, or how to go easy on ourselves if we don’t have some of the qualities people around us expect us to have. We are fine just the way we are – works-in-progress, trying to solve our own Rubik’s cubes.

Harmony. Connection. Oneness. We must strive for these things within us, and simultaneously, around us. This is the struggle at the core of life. This IS life. We are meant to struggle, yearn, and persist, but we are also meant to be at peace. How we put our puzzle pieces together will have an impact on how well we can keep this balance.

Walls

I’ve been hearing how satisfying it is to allow oneself to be vulnerable.

Tear down those walls, they say.

Only then will you feel real joy.

Live each day to the fullest, they say,

doing whatever it is you were meant to do.

Follow your passion, they say,

but first figure out what your passion is.

What they don’t really focus on, though,

is how terrifying it is to do any of this.

I built these walls three decades ago.

I know what to expect.

They protect me from feeling too much,

when the news has only death to deliver,

when my spouse says something hurtful that will stay with me for years,

when my boss overlooks me in favor of my colleague.

These walls have kept me from drowning in sorrow.

But they’ve done something else, too.

They’ve removed me,

made me irrelevant.

I’ve spent so long crouched within them, I no longer feel like a part of this world.

Is that what’s happening to all of us?

We’re not just building walls to divide borders,

we’re building walls around our hearts?

I don’t like what’s happening to us.

The isolation,

the fear,

the paralysis,

allowing others to take over,

allowing power and money to take precedence over life.

If tearing down my walls is what I need to do to become more a part of this world,

to the point where the sorrow might overwhelm me,

but it might move me, too,

and push me out of my comfort zone,

then that is exactly what I’m going to do.

The thing is,

it’s terrifying.

I cry every day.

My heart shudders all the time.

I feel more scared than ever.

But I don’t want to hide anymore.

I don’t know why God made me this way,

a hulking mass of depression, anxiety, and pessimism,

but I need to believe that I am who I am

for a reason.

The truth is,

we are living in monstrous times.

The worst monsters are the ones we can’t see,

but that manipulate us anyway.

How can we get rid of something we can’t even see?

Well, we built invisible walls around us, didn’t we?

If we can create invisible forces,

we can certainly learn to get rid of them, too.

If we shed the walls, we shed the chains.

If we shed the chains, we’re free to “fight” the monsters,

the ones we can see, as well as the ones we can’t:

the power that corrupts

and the people who wield that power,

the imbalance where money is more valuable than human lives,

the suffering of those people, who,

even though we can’t see them or they’re just a soundbite in our system,

and they feel so far away,

are still a part of this world,

and a part of us.

Just because the powers-that-be thought it best to divide us into nations, races, and religions,

doesn’t mean we should let them separate us in spirit.

We are all one.

So to hell with it if I cry when I watch the news.

At least then I might actually take action

in ending this misery,

because the truth is,

we live in monstrous times,

but these are the only times we’re going to get.

Let’s turn them into something else,

so that years later,

when our children and grandchildren remember us,

they’ll say,

“Man, those were such wonderful times.

Everyone cared, everyone was an activist.

Everyone did their part in unifying this world,

which is the main reason

we live in such peaceful times

today.”