“What you must understand is . . . that peace is a choice you make.”
One of my favorite quotes is from psychologist Carl Rogers, who said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I can change.”
That statement has always had a sort of zen quality to me. Lately it’s also become a recurring question in my mind relating to things I hear or read, especially in spiritual literature, about making peace with where I am. In fact a friend wrote to me recently after a blog post, and he was wondering if I really buy into this business about the best way to improve a bad situation being to let go of needing things to be different in order to feel better
I’m a sucker for a good paradox, so I asked the Shower Team, “How are we supposed to make peace with where we are when where we are sucks?” (Note to self: Reduce usage of word “suck” in future blog posts) . . . .
Making peace with where you are doesn’t mean what you tend to assume that it means. You hear that and you interpret it to mean that you’re just supposed to be resigned to whatever fate you feel is being thrust upon you or you are just supposed to grin like an idiot and babble affirmations no matter how miserable you are. A much better way to say it is, “Make peace with YOU—wherever you are.” Because the point is, that YOU are truly fine . . . truly okay . . . truly blessed . . . truly loved and supported . . . no matter where you are. No matter what you’ve created. No matter what kind of mess you feel you’ve made. No matter how long or hard you’ve been struggling. No matter how beaten up or abandoned you feel. No matter how worthless or stupid or inept or foolish you feel—or believe others feel that you are.
Too often what most of you try to do is to improve how you feel from the outside in. You observe the conditions or circumstances that you are experiencing and your knee jerk reaction is to say, “I’ll feel better when that’s different.” Or “I’ll feel better when this is no longer the case.” So you change your hair style or your wardrobe. You go on a diet. You buy a new house. You quit your job. You leave your mate. You move to another neighborhood or city or state or country. Some of you would head for another planet if you could—always trusting in the same illusion: that it’s where you are that makes the difference. “If I can just be over there, not here—everything will be fine. I’LL be fine as soon as I’m over there.”
It is very hard for you to hear us say, “It doesn’t matter where you are” and understand it much less believe it. You hear words like “wherever you go, there are you are,” and you laugh and you recognize some truth in it but then you go right back to shopping for your new clothes or your new partner or your new career . . . What we want so much for you to understand is that, while these externals may distract you from how bad you feel or in some cases, even allow you to take the much longer route to feeling better about yourself—there is a much simpler, swifter way for you to get your bearings and to feel the power that you always have to feel better no matter what’s going on in your life.
YOU are never a mess. YOU never need a makeover. YOU never need to be anything other than who YOU really are. And until you allow yourself to be at peace with YOU—apart from any circumstance or condition or situation . . . until you understand that YOU are blessed and adored and supported and perfect as YOU are, then you will be constantly striving for some other way to be. You will be constantly trying to remodel your life based on the mistaken belief that how your house looks to passers by has anything to do with how it feels as a home. You can create a showplace that anyone looking at from the outside in will admire and applaud. And it will still feel like an empty, hollow, cold, lonely space until you understand that YOU are the life in it. You are the warmth in it. You are the spirit that inhabits your life and makes it livable.
What you must understand is that YOU are your home, that peace is a choice you make . . . . . it is a recognition that what matters is how you feel in your skin and in your heart . . . and that everything you really want is right there where you are.
When you understand that you don’t need anything to change in order to be at peace, that there are no renovations needed, no permits to apply for, no sins to confess and atone for, no sentences to serve or fines to pay, then you are free to change anything you want, simply because you enjoy the changing of it. It becomes a game you’re free to play because it’s fun to play it . . . not an act of desperation or a deception that anything going on around you in any way determines who you really are or a driving need to match your life to something you’ve seen in a catalog or a movie or an infomercial or a sacred text or a self-help book–or for that matter, a blog. Make peace with YOU, wherever you are because if you don’t, you’ll have no real peace, no matter where you are.
Wonder if that blog crack was intended for anyone in particular . . . I’ve certainly learned the long and hard way that I can’t move far enough away from anything that’s holding me back from feeling the way I want to feel about my life. I’m still not sure how much happiness money might buy—it’s a theory I wouldn’t mind having the opportunity to test somewhere down the road. In the meantime, it seems worth the effort to see how much I can like the me in the middle of whatever it is I’m not liking. And that leaves Me/Us, for the moment, paradoxically complete.
Parting aFLOWmation: “You dropped your peace–pick it up.”
I find an overlook where I can see
the stained glass lake
reclining, shining, letting
sun and clouds do what they will.
I greet the nodding evergreens.
We agree to share this space,
making no demands.
The mountains and the lake and trees
all have much to say
but they are not the ones
I’ve come to hear.
I wait and listen for the wind,
the wisdom flowing in high places,
voices carrying through the ages
and the swaying branches,
sages sweeping their wide arms
across the surface of the lake,
fingers brushing the worn face
of rock and wood and leaf.
I used to throw my questions like a pair of dice
and wait for lucky revelation,
truth that I could pick up like a pine cone
and take back to my dresser,
next to keys and watch and my ID.
I used to think what mattered
was a message I could fit in my back pocket
that would nag my ass until I got it.
But the mountains and the lake and trees
offered just the simple statement,
that these heights are all perception,
a point of view, a blink, a dream . . .
that any looming truth
was tiny in the chipmunk’s paw.
The sun set and the moon rose.
The mountains and the lake and trees
had no comment,
their silence fluent as the shadows,
and the wind with all the knowing
also held its tongue,
let my questions babble like a childish brook,