Sunday, July 27, 2008

How Many Ways Can We Say It?

Peace of mind, contentment, serenity, chillin', calmness, relaxation......? It is difficult to come up with all of the words in our language that represent this state of being. In the last month and a half, beleive me, I have learned a tremendous amount about trying to achieve peace of mind. To me, it is letting God's spirit take hold within you so that you see the world around you through His eyes. And then you love and treat others accordingly.

I have tended to be one of those people who perhaps did not let out my feelings. Resentments I internalized. Grudges would stay with me---festering. This is not a good equation for avoiding cancer no matter how healthy one's diet is. Obviously, I am not going to go into a boat load of specific details but there were times when Dave traveled extensively leaving me with two small children who had a number of activities happening at the same time. Of course, my friends were equally as busy and I had no family to help. One particular winter, the kids both had chicken pox one after the other, bronchitis and ear infections. I ended up with pneumonia from sheer exhaustion. Dave was on the east coast and my doctor told me point blank that I needed to demand that he return or I would end up hospitalized. He left the middle of a meeting and took the next flight home; I was prescribed antibiotics and things improved. The following summer, Dave had a fishing trip to Alaska planned but he realized the winter had been particularly hard on me. As such, he knew he owed me big time so my Mom and I decided to take a cruise to Alaska. It was the break I needed from my children and my life at that moment. Dave still went on his fishing trip, of course, but he learned that my job of full-time parenting while he was often absent was not easy.

Frustrations we all have with other people beyond our families is also particularly rampant. Last Friday night in Seattle, bicyclists participated in a monthly Critical Mass bike ride to demonstrate that our streets should be available for both bikers and drivers. Yes, the bicyclists block traffic at certain intersections for a few minutes to make their point. A couple in a Subaru became irritated even though some bikers told them the bikes would pass in only a few minutes. The driver of the car proclaimed they were late for a reservation and he proceeded to drive into the bicyclists. A couple of no-doubt expensive bikes were smashed and at least one person was hurt. The bicyclists then turned on the driver of the Subaru, flattened his tires, smashed his windows, and a bicyclist assaulted him. All of this happened over annoyance about being late for a reservation. Yes, this happened in ultra-polite Seattle.

I am just going to throw out this speculation. I bet none of the folks involved are suffering from cancer. Annoyances and irritations that used to be major now seem ridiculous to me. When Dave or Lucas becomes upset with something about the computer, I now ask, "Is it really a life or death matter?" Dave has been working in the yard a lot and he was complaining about arthritis in his little finger last night.

"Man, this is killing me--my little finger!"

"Oh, is it really? It is really killing you?" I chided.

Drivers have little patience for bicyclists if they slow them down for a block or two. Neighbors get upset with neighbors all over the Seattle area because of fence lines or bushes or trees. Tempers blow up in fast food restaurants and people get shot. Drivers become enraged if someone cuts them off while merging onto I-5. Parents at children's sports events get all worked up if their kid doesn't get to play enough. The list can go on and on.

But when you are forced by traumatic events to strive for peace of mind, becoming upset over trivial matters seems beyond absurd. I catch myself frequently thinking about things that perhaps used to bother me, "You know, that simply does not matter--not one bit." And then I smile.

If only all of the people involved in the incident on Friday night had chosen to chill a little bit!