Peace of Mind in These Times?
My teacher recently said, “If you want peace, then all you have to do is to accept. This is the formula for lasting peace of mind.”
Seems simple enough, right? I thought so until it sunk in what his statement actually meant. Think about your obnoxious work colleague, yes, the one who always is creating drama, and somehow involving you. Accept that. Maybe some of you have already faced this challenge, and have succeeded. Congrats! Okay, so how about your uncle Joe. Yes, the one who is the know-it-all, always telling you what to do, even though you know ten times more than him. Never seeing your ideas at all. Can you accept him as he is? If so, great. And what about your sister, who is constantly criticizing you? The one whom you have made extra efforts to please, yet all she can do is put you down. Accept? Wow! So, what about this one? Can you deal with your friend whom is jealous of you but has no self-awareness, and is constantly trying to sabotage you behind your back? If so, nice one! And don't forget your "friend" who is always complementing you, appreciating you, and asking you what he can do for you. Then, you finally ask him for one small thing, and he doesn't do it. You see him doing that very same thing for other people, whom are mean and hateful. In fact, they hate you. But your friend promotes them. And for you, the one whom he says that he loves so much, he doesn't do anything. No problem, right? Still peaceful? That's acceptance. Good. Okay, so let’s take it up a notch. What about if your lover loves someone or something else more than you? Can you stomach that? Can you just accept? Is your mind calm? If so, fabulous. Let’s keep going. How about you lose your job? You get fired just like that. It may have already happened to some of you in the not so distant past. Accept? Really? It’s getting tougher now. But there is more. How about your bank account gets cleaned out? Completely drained. Someone somehow stole all of your money and you can’t get it back. Maybe it was your ex, or maybe you are still with him or her. Can you accept? Can you remain peaceful?
This kind of questioning reminds me of a game that I used to play for hours with my sisters when we were young called, “Would You Rather?” I don’t remember if it was a real game, or if we just made it up on one of our many long, boring road trips from New Hampshire to Florida. It was way before the times of ipads or any other sort of electronic entertainment. Therefore, we entertained ourselves by asking questions and forcing each other to decide between one horribly terrible situation and another even more torturous situation. In those simple, carefree days, our questions would go something like this, “Would you rather have Mr. DeMont again for science next year, or have to go to Mrs. Pond’s house for dinner?” We would laugh and laugh at the situations we would conjure up, and we would crack up even harder at each others responses and reasoning.
But, now, the situation isn’t so funny. It is way worse than any of the innocent childhood “would you rather” questions. The questions now go something like, “Would you rather catch COVID-19 and die, or watch your mother catch it and die?” Sorry to be so harsh, but that is the situation many people are facing around the world. And worse. The stories are starting to hit a little closer to home now too. Maybe one or two months ago, we didn’t know anyone who had COVID-19, but now we do. A friend, a colleague, a family member. Or someone who knows someone. Things are getting real, and real quick. Some people have managed to escape the wrath of the COVID-19 so far, but the story is not over yet. She is still violently shaking our world as we know it so it is almost unrecognizable.
However, each of us still has a choice. We can use this opportunity as a chance to accept what is and experience peace despite the raging storm at our doorstep. Or, we can fight it. We can reject the reality, and we can remain anxious, fearful, panicked and stressed out.
Accepting the reality is not so easy, however. In fact, what it really means is accepting our own death. And quite frankly, nobody wants to do that. But that is what we have to do in order to have peace of mind. We have to make the ultimate acceptance. We have to accept that yes, we are bound to die someday. And, the truth is, we don’t have that much control over when it will be. A very deadly virus is bearing down upon us now. And, it just might be our time to go. We truly don't know. I am not saying that we should go without a fight. Of course, we will do our best to fight this battle. God knows, we are trying our best to protect ourselves. You can think of acceptance in this way. There are two types of acceptance. Passive acceptance, in which I don't do anything and become irresponsible. And, active acceptance, in which I accept that this is the situation and if there is something that I can do to protect myself, then I do that. But with a calm mind. In this case, we should try to accept that if it is our time to die, it is our time to die. I know, I know, we are not ready. There is still so much we want to say, and see, and do. I hear you! But that is how life is. It goes by too fast. A blink of an eye and it is over. We can't control that.
What we can control is our mind. We can do this by practicing letting go. This is another form of accepting what is. We don't have to hold on so tightly to life, in denial that death will come some day for us. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will surely come. So why not just accept? You may say that you have already accepted this fact. But I challenge you to look a little deeper. Because if you have truly accepted this, then you should not be feeling any anxiety, or fear right now, or ever. You should be completely calm and peaceful. Not only now, but in every situation, even at your own death. I know this is a big topic to open up. But, why not find our truth now? Why wait? For if not now, when else will we look at the dark places that scare us? We can contemplate on the end of our life and try to accept that it could be any time now. Then use our days wisely. Live every day like it could be our last. Because one day it will be. And there is peace in that. We just have to find it. Don’t be afraid to look. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. Would you rather accept and be peaceful or reject and be in anxiety?