My kids and I have been enjoying some audio books during our drive to and from school each day. It has turned into a tremendously positive use of the otherwise idle time. We stumbled upon a gem of a book this week called Pax by Sara Pennypacker.
More than once, this book has led us to great conversations about the very nature of life. The types of talks that really allow us to connect and for my children to learn about their place in this world.
At one point in the story a young boy, Peter, on a mission to find his lost fox, finds his journey halted due to a broken foot. He has some dialogue with a wise, older woman who lives alone in a log cabin with no electricity or creature comforts. Peter asks her why she seems so happy despite not having many friends or belongings. She replies:
“I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace.”
We often find ourselves pushing in many directions against all sorts of different forces. In my recent post on recovery I alluded to this dilemma we face as men.
One of the most difficult decisions we face as men is knowing when a limitation should be heeded and when it should be destroyed.
We have many desires, many things we want to do or think we should be doing. We push and push to try to make these things happen. Our goals and missions consume us.
Often we miss something, however. We have a tendency to be far more optimistic about our current circumstances than our reality supports. We think where we are right now isn’t enough so we trick ourselves into thinking we are somewhere else.
We want to wake up at 5 am to write but we waste an hour every night watching porn. We want to have enough energy to carry us all day, but we eat too many carbs at lunch and crash. We want to be ripped, but we skip the gym a few days a week.
On a more meta level we will often view all upcoming events in a positive light. We believe our house will go up and value and we can move to a bigger one, we think think our income will take off next year, or we think we’ll execute all of our plans flawlessly.
What do we forget, however? We forget to take stock of exactly where we are right now. We imagine ourselves to be two steps ahead of reality, and our goal to be two steps ahead of that. We lie to ourselves.
Recognizing that right where we are at this very moment, and viewing that moment for exactly what it is, is the closest we will ever come to true peace.
Whatever roads and decisions have led us to this very point in our lives have occurred for one reason, and one reason only, so we could experience this very moment for exactly what it is.
We miss a tremendous opportunity for peace every single day. We look outward, we look for ways to move our path, to command our lives. We lie to ourselves, because deep down we know control is an illusion.
At the very most, control is simply taking full advantage of the current situation that has been bestowed upon us. Our bodies, our minds, our talents, and our very physical location on this planet have had little to do with our will.
If we look around and accept this moment and ourselves for exactly what they are we will realize we need little more. From this platform we can act honestly and realistically.
“The gulf stream will flow through a straw provided the straw is aligned to the gulf stream and not at cross currents … align yourself, boy. Figure out how things are and accept it.” – Sara Pennypacker, Pax