I have started this piece 27 times. Too many conflicting ideas, too many thoughts, too many distractions and interruptions. Ok, 27 may be a SLIGHT exaggeration but you get the idea. Could be all the coffee in the last two days but hey, late night chats with the kids and early morning airport runs have their price.
The reality is I am having trouble getting my thoughts out because I’m not here. I’m not claiming to be a disembodied spirit (Casper & Wendy, your jobs are safe) but I am not present. At a time in my life when I am cementing who I am and what I want, I oddly find myself not where I should be. I am displaced and it’s causing no end of restlessness.
I am not being mindful, in the modern parlance. I know all the things I should be doing to help me focus. I know all the things I should be avoiding to stop the drifting thoughts. But I can’t, not right now, I’m busy. Not in a I’ve got too much on kind of way, I mean I do, I always have, but I’ve always managed to be present regardless of the busyness, maybe even because of it as a means of getting by. I am instead busy with the thoughts that fill my brain. They traverse it like a tornado, taking out everything it their path and constantly returning, I feel like a boxer, punch drunk and coming back for round two (three, four…) because reasoning them out the first few times clearly didn’t work.
It’s not because of the “noise” that surrounds me, the visual and aural distractions are neither stimulating, nor entertaining. They are, if I’m to be honest, rather grating right now. Things that I would normally find engaging are more an annoyance. I find myself craving silence and peace, and it’s a strange craving for me. Those who’ve met me may find this puzzling, fear not my friends, you’re not alone in your bewilderment.
It’s not answers I seek in the silence, it’s not clarity, it’s not even understanding. Just stillness. A quiet of the mind. We all face times when it’s just too much. When the pace of life runs roughshod over us. When we are unable to change the situations in which we find ourselves. When we are unable to effect change where it is so desperately needed. When we find ourselves out of step with the world. When we just need the noise to stop and the thoughts to cease their whirring.
That peace can be difficult to attain and unless you’ve committed to enlightenment, nigh on impossible to maintain. You can find it serendipitously, in quiet moments, or in creativity or love. You can find it deliberately, through medication or meditation or mindfulness. You can find it through living more intentionally and authentically. But it does not last, and let’s face it, we wouldn’t value it if it did. We need the rain to appreciate the sun.
So I seek it now, in this busy time, and I accept it where I can find it. I’d like to say that waking in the middle of the night brings it, that I find it accompanied by the chill of a winter’s night and the stillness of a world that sleeps, but that would would be a lie. The silence in the middle of the night can be a deafening roar and then my friends, we’re back to square one. But I do find it in small moments. I find it in a deep breath when that’s all I can muster, in the wind blowing through the trees, in the wonder as you gaze out over an incredible view that for a moment is all your own, in the gathering storm clouds, in the laughter you share with friends and family, in the love that they dispense so freely, and when I’m really lucky, I find it in the memory of quieter times.
Whatever guise you find it in, I wish you peace.