8am. The day so far: Up three times in the night with the baby and both of us up for the day at 4:45am. Dog peed all over the bedroom carpet because no one let her out before bed. Spilled my first cup of coffee all over the kitchen floor. Baby is grouchy due to lack of sleep, his displeasure unmitigated by all my best efforts. The sink is overflowing with dishes, there were no clean spoons for oatmeal, while my son screamed for oatmeal. Husband just left for work. Long, long list of to-do’s today and I look out upon the hours stretched ahead of me like Almásy staring across the barren sands of the Libyan desert.
“There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment. Take peace!”~ Fra. Giovanni Giocondo
Scribbled on a scrap of notebook paper, this quote traveled with me for nearly eight years of my transitory twenties. It was taped to bedroom mirrors and tacked to bulletin boards. It was a well-worn bookmark for awhile, pressed inside my journal. The words resounded in me like bell and yet at other times seemed mocking when peace seemed so unattainable. A simple statement and baffling in practical application. Yet at moments I have clung to these words beyond my understanding the way one clings to a bouy in the ocean. Because it is all that is there.
A couple of years ago, I slipped the quote inside the cover a book I passed along to someone who I thought might need something to cling to. You never know if it’s the right bouy for someone else but you cast it out anyway. Besides, the words are mine now permanently, I can call upon them whenever I need to. But only recently do I feel like I have alighted upon the touchstone of their premise: Peace is what you practice.
Few things come easy when we only practice them once in awhile. The artist creates everyday, the writer puts his pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard diligently, the athlete daily disciplines his body. How can we expect to find peace in the more troubling times if we cannot master proficiency in the here and now?
With whatever surrounds us at the moment, there will come no better time. If I cannot experience peace where I am at, it does not exist for me in some far off moment when the house is clean, the baby is content, my checklist is done, the bills are paid with money left over, my work is complete, I’ve lost 15 pounds, etc. etc. etc.
I control my inner peace.