"You cannot find peace by avoiding life." Virgina Woolf
The start of a new year comes with inevitable reflection and forecasting. This period of looking back and looking forward often turns out to be less than sustainable or substantive. What would happen if we carried the mindset of being pensive about our lives, and aspirational about our futures throughout the duration of the year instead of just its end and onset? Resolutions do not have to be flimsy. If we choose to focus on tangible things, consistent behaviors, and our thought processes then we can make long-lasting changes. It's all about shift in perspective. Our vantage points have to change, and along with them how we choose to act and speak. If we can make changes there, then everything and everyone around us will do the same. We have the power to change. We have the power to change our situations and our outcomes, to a large extent. What we do with that power is up to us. We have the option to relinquish power to others just as much as it is ours to reclaim. That is literally empowering. A difference in attitude from "have to" to "get to" coupled with one of balanced optimism with pragmatism can revolutionize our experiences. Everything becomes an opportunity instead of a burden. We get peace as opposed to hardship. As much as we have power over, we should wield it wisely.
This year my mantra is "add to my peace, or be on your way." That's it. I want peace. I will have peace. I am going to create my own peace. That's one of those things that escapes many of us. Coming to the realization that peace isn't something you find, stumble upon, or just happens - it's an active process of co-creation, intentionality, and exploration. Peace is not a place or a state of being, it's a product of our own creation. That means that we are responsible for our own peace, no one else. That is hopeful because the only thing stopping us from it could be ... us. Then again, the only thing stopping us could be us. I'll go with the former intonation. This year, more than ever, I am choosing my own peace. I am choosing my own peace in direct opposition to the comfort, needs, and yearns of others. I am choosing my own peace as an act of rebellion in a world that is antithetical to it. I am choosing my own peace, unapologetically, without hesitation, and without remorse, regret, or guilt. I am radically choosing me and what brings me peace. No, I am going after my peace. I am chasing it down. I am building it. It is mine. I claim it. Nothing, and no one can take this from me. I will savor every moment of it, I will relish in its glory, and I will have mine before I do whatever is in my power for others to make theirs.
Creating our own peace happens with prioritization. Constantly asking the question "does this matter; and if so, why?" let's us better clarify all our endeavors. Truly, does this matter - this issue, challenge, incident, connection, interaction, post, picture, etc. More often than we are willing to admit, it does not. If things do not matter then we don't have to spend significant time on them, and instead can spend it on our peace. There is a direct correlation and inverse relationship between our priorities and our peace. If things do matter, than it is worth asking the follow-up question of why, and also how much. We deemed that something was significant why? Is that objectively, or subjectively to us, our community, our world? Maybe it has emotional value, or it impacts us, or we need it. Whatever the reason is, it needs to be real - at least to us. If we cannot come up with a why, then it may be worthy of a reevaluation or priorities. Does this matter now with immediacy, will this matter in 30 minutes, at the end of this day, at the end of the year? If it's largely time dependent, then maybe it's not worth giving up our peace for. We must protect our peace as much as possible. Anything or anyone who threatens it may not be worth it, worthwhile, or worthy of us.
Fostering peace for me means patience, kindness, and compassion. Slowing things down. Taking things one at a time. Being present, being with people, and embracing wherever I am allows me to bring peace into my days. When I am kind I am at peace. When I choose empathy over anger or frustration I get to add to my sense of peace. When I stop to ask questions, clarify, dig deeper, and choose to connect with people as people beyond transactions that is when I get to incorporate peace into the mundane. Peace makes my life extraordinary even when it seems ordinary. Peace let's me show up in ways that I can be proud of. Peace let's me speak in the ways that people need most. Peace brings me comfort that combats all the anxious awkwardness. Peace is getting to be, being okay with just being, and being me - as authentically as possible. Peaceful is me at my best, most genuine, and most effective - that is where I want to be. I'm looking forward to this year of peace. Let it be so. X
Here are my resolutions and goals for the year:
- Smile more genuinely - spend less time striving to appease white people
- Be less afraid/be bolder - do things that scare me (often)
- Continue being decisive - let go, move on, and be explicit with it
- Complaints must be followed by an action to resolve said complaint
- Clarify the ambiguity and externalize more than internalize
- Travel to at least two new places
- See more friends
- Spend more days taking pictures and writing letters
- Get back to volunteering consistently