Peace is Relative.
Updated: Nov 21, 2021
During a recent Zoom call, a group of us were sharing our stories about transformation in our lives. We all experienced the same personal enrichment seminar, but separately over 20 years. It was pretty amazing how many different perspectives came out of the same format.
About a year after I had been through the seminars, 11 years ago, I found myself driving my work truck and experiencing a deep and powerful feeling that was unfamiliar to me. It was peace and joy out of nowhere. Behind the truck wheel, hot and tired from work and battling traffic, was the strongest wave of relaxation, joy, and happiness I ever had in such a mundane moment. It became apparent that after reciting my mantra to myself for a year, especially during times of frustration or turmoil, my heart and mind were changing. "I am a peaceful, joyful man, with a heart.".
I was sharing some of this in the Zoom call when one of the participants commented on how funny it was to him that I proclaim peace in my life one minute, and the next, I'm posting pics of the German metal, industrial rock, and punk bands I love listening too. Not so many years ago, this would have felt like judgment, like I was mixed up or a hypocrite. But what I came away from that with is that peace is relative.
I learned anger, anxiety, and rage as a kid. It came with the religious world I grew up in. It seems like a long journey, maybe an impossible journey, to leave that rage behind and become a peaceful person. It is long and arduous because gaining peace isn't a flip of a switch. It's training our minds to react differently to the world around us.
On that day, behind the wheel of my truck, hope filled me. I saw a brightness in my future I had never imagined, and I resolved to practice my mantra more. "I am a peaceful, joyful man with a heart." It is a silly little phrase, but repeatedly, it has manifested within me clarity, courage, and a sharper mind.
Since that day, I have lost my temper plenty of times. I've gotten angry at people, politics, and situations I couldn't understand. I've thrown a phone through a wall, tore up a store display in anger, and said things to people I feel terrible about. For some of us, peace is nowhere to be found at times. Peace is not guaranteed. Peace is earned.
Some of you are lucky to have lived an entirely peaceful life. You're reading this without any understanding of how rage can explode from inside. But for the rest of us, it's a battle. For the combat soldier, or police officer who lives with the war within, the trodden workers, beholden to low wages and shitty jobs, the victims of assault, and the thousands of kids like me who grew up never getting it right and continually fearing the rod. Always in defense mode, always watching over our shoulder. Where can peace possibly be found?
Peace is found inside. In our guts, hearts, and minds. While the world around us reminds us of our frustration and fears, the world inside invites us to see the greatest freedom of all, peace. We find our world inside through meditation, yoga, focused movement, dance, and chanting mantras that are self-affirming and validating. These things work.
And yes, after years of seeking peace and the clarity it brings, we call on heavy fucking metal. Leaning into the squall of the wild frontman at the mic and the fiery flames of pyrotechnics, we embrace the tribe we know. We shout along, dance in the craziest places, and cry through choruses of thrashing redemption. Even with roots planted in rage and fortified with angst, our limbs seek freedom, and our flowers bloom in the bright light of hard earned peace.