Committed to peace

by | Aug 11, 2017 | kayaking, meditation, mindfulness

Of late I have been dealing with the consequences of my past actions. To say I fucked up is an understatement of inordinate proportion. I can’t undo the past, what I did, what was said, what was intended, what damage these actions created. The events occurred at a time when I was in denial of my personal mental turmult. I believed that I could think my way out of what later became clear was a chemical imbalance that needed to be treated as such. I chose to blame another, rather than realize or accept, that my own behavior and mental health issues were the root cause of my unhappiness. Running away, avoidance, my instinctive behavior, was the easy option I pursued rather than working on protecting and nurturing what I had and should have valued. It took me reaching rock bottom, and being confronted with the possibility of losing what I cherished, to point me down my current path of rehabilitation, to address the real root cause of the turmult, my brain chemistry.

Given that I am not Dr Who. I have no time travelling Tardis. I have no option but to live with the consequences. In reality this is a part of the human condition. We all live with our past. Individually we have the opportunity to determine how we respond to the past and how we let it affect our future. Do we allow the past to direct our future actions? Do we learn, or repeat the mistakes of the past?

A fundamental principle of the Loving Kindness practice that I am integrating into my life is that everyone has the right to be at peace. Like most spiritual or faith based practices there is a tenet that has to be assumed or accepted. One cannot prove that the human condition is either predicated upon this principle or somehow bestows this “right”. I have been struggling for a while to accept that this is a valid principle. What has tipped the balance for me is Jacquelyn (my wife) giving me the gift of her request that I be at peace. For me it was easier to be given that gift than to assumptively gratify myself with peace.

Epictetus was a Greek philosopher, born in AD 50. He was what is known as a Stoic. He wrote many interesting things but two seem particularly relevant today (to me):

We have no power over external things, and the good that ought to be the object of our earnest pursuit, is to be found only within ourselves.

(Epictetus – The Enchiridion translated by Heinrich Ritter, Alexander James William Morrison, (1846), The History of Ancient Philosophy, Volume 4, page 206)

No one is master of another’s prohairesis [moral character], and in this alone lies good and evil. No one, therefore, can secure the good for me, or involve me in evil, but I alone have authority over myself in these matters. (Discourses 4.12.7–8, trans. Dobbin)

(Epictetus – The Discourses 4.12.7–8, trans. Dobbin)

Many internet memes have been created barstardizing his words, they all seem to capture the essence of his intended message which I summarize as:

It’s how you react to negativity that determines your own peace.

(Crowhurst)

Unfortunately, circumstances are such that my everyday life is repetitively affected by the negative consequences and reminders of my past actions. In order to avoid creating further mental tumult I have canceled my attendance at numerous events. I have dramatically reduced my teaching practice and firewalled it behind the protection of privacy. I have decided to not go to places, not to see friends, nor mentor at events that have such deep-seated meaning to me that I feel at times that I have robbed myself of my very essence. It is ironic that the twisted vision I had run towards was one purporting freedom to engage in my desires, yet the consequential impact has been the opposite, and limits me now beyond my previously self-imposed mental shackles.  I have no way of knowing if the future will allow me to return to or revisit these places and events. I can’t live for the future that I can’t control. Living for a hope seems like a fool’s errand.

So, I am faced with deciding daily how to react to circumstance, it is my choice. My decision, my reaction, affects my personal peace.

I am committed to my life, my love Jacquelyn, my family and my passions kayaking, yoga and eating plant based. I know the only way I can be successful in my commitment is if I am at peace with myself, so each day I work to find that peace. Many days I am successful.

I am a work in progress. That reminds me, I need to meditate.

May I be safe,
be happy,
be healthy,
be at peace.

Committed to a reverse sweep roll