The quiet calm of inner peace energizes and revitalizes me the way nothing else can. I cultivate peace and build time for it into my day. I’m a better person when I live in peace. Mercy and compassion and their acts of personal redemption rise like spring from a deep well. It just feels gooooood. Peace doesn’t just happen. It takes determination, discipline, focus and desire for love above all else. Peace matters and it’s worth the effort.
It’s nice when peace flows easily but that isn’t always the case. When it's not I hold my tongue, which is not the same thing as holding my peace, thank you very much, but it’s a place to start. I take a break, go for a walk, listen to music, pray, eat a good meal. I walk away from situations and people who vex my spirit and torment my soul. The problem is I can’t walk away from myself and the wild thing my mind becomes when I’m feeling stressed. This week peace seemed a fleeting memory dreamed of on a sunny day.
I wanted to be peaceful, really I did, but Monday I was kick the dog cranky and in a mood to beat the crap out of someone. I hated it. I was not diggin’ myself and I was not lovin’ my life. I was bad-tempered company for everyone, myself included. It’s tempting and mildly entertaining to ramble around the why and how of a mood like that. That’s rarely as helpful as we want to believe it is. It was a mood, mind weather that I didn't want to make worse. Hitting the gym usually makes me feel better and having a regular time with a trainer gets me there when I would rather drag myself home and crawl into a book and a cup of tea. Off to the gym I went, foul mood and all.
When Shanrika, the trainer I’ve been working with, asked me how I was I told her. “I’m cranky. I want to beat the crap out of someone.” Shanrika must have the soul of a rainbow. She is always smiling and not just on the outside either. She is a truly radiant woman. She laughed and picked up a large red punching bag and said, “Go to it, give it all you got.” Huh? Hitting? Really? Me? It seemed so….I don’t know violent, the opposite of the peace I was seeking. She laughed and said, “Come on, it’s a full body work out, trust me.”
I gave the bag a tentative jab, then another. It took a minute or two before I found my rhythm. When I did I began bouncing back and forth on the balls of my feet, hitting hard enough to make Shanrika laugh. Yeah, I don’t understand that either. I was beginning to have a new found respect for boxers when a woman I know casually at the gym stopped by to watch, turns out that she took up boxing to work out some aggression. (Me, aggressive? Say it’s not so.) She showed me how to jab and punch and then taught me a round house kick which felt really good. One by one the other women who train with Shanrika stopped by and encouraged me, maybe goaded would be a better word. “Come on, Deb, you can hit harder than that. Make her pay for those squats!” I started hitting as hard as I could, chin down, shoulder up, pivot on my back foot. Every time I connected with power Shanrika would laugh and soon we were all laughing.
Thirty minutes later I dropped to the floor in a puddle of sweat, depleted, empty of everything that never mattered very much anyway. And there it was, in the space that was left, peace. I priced free standing punching bags the next day.