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Finding Peace in Chaos

  • 2 min read

This year has been disorienting. A death in the family. Moving. Launching a project years in the making. Dramatic peaks and valleys with few fields between. I've struggled to maintain my rituals, so I rented a quiet village home.

Out front, everything was in walking distance. Farm to table food. Owner-run cafes with good coffee. Out back, a small, verdant yard. Perfect for meditating, and writing outside. The ideal conditions to resume my rituals.

On the first day, I was greeted by a picture-book spring morning. Quiet, sunny, cool. I found my spot in the sun. Closed my eyes. I took a deep breath, and that's when the deafening sawing began.

On the other side of the fence, someone was cutting tiles. It sounded like a chainsaw attacking a chalkboard. Then it stops. "Maybe it was just a moment," I wonder. I hope. Then starts again... and again. Frustration surged into anger. When was I going to find the perfect conditions to take care of myself? What I didn't expect was a blindingly clear answer: that's not the right question. 

There are two uncomfortable truths: we can't control the world around us, and the world does not care about our plans. The real question becomes: how do you take care of yourself when the perfect conditions don't exist?

When that question dawned on me, I smiled because the answer was drowning out all other sound: This. This is what you can do. You slow down and get curious. You look inside yourself. You see what is coming up without judgement. You listen to what it has to say. You thank that part of yourself, and try to let it go. You bring your focus back to what matters now. In other words, you meditate.

In some ways, nothing changed. The guy kept sawing, I kept meditating. In other ways, everything changed because nothing had to change. In that moment, I stopped resisting my life. This is what was happening.

Would I choose it? No. I can choose not to resist it though. It's just a sound. He's doing his job. He probably didn't even realize I was sitting there. I'm still in this lovely garden. Nothing is happening to me. If anything, now I can use this to practice.

In a world where everything needs to be fixed, changed, or bettered, how powerful and liberating would it be to practice letting more things be as they are? Rather than getting caught up in all the "should" and "should nots," how can we skillfully be with what is?

With that in mind, I pose the question to you: how will you take care of yourself when the perfect conditions won't exist?

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