Serenity, Interpreted

I just stumbled across a post I wrote on January 23, 2011 on another blog that I abandoned some time ago.  Reading it made me catch my breath at what I felt when I wrote it and what I still fee.

I am trying to adopt a more serene outlook on life. It is not easy for me. I’m not saying it’s “hard,” but it’s not easy. That is, serenity does not come naturally to me. I am not a naturally calm person. I have to focus on it. I have to devote energy and thought and energy to it. I have to reign-in my natural inclination to be intense. There’s something wrong with that, I think. Not wrong to have to reign in my inclinations, wrong to have to fight so hard to be at peace.

Maybe I don’t understand what serenity is. Or maybe I do, but just can’t achieve it. I suspect most of us can’t, if truth be told. Is the Dalai Lama really at peace? How can he be so intense, then? How is it that I can achieve some sense of serenity only through rather intense effort? The serenity achieved thereby, I’m afraid, is not serenity. It’s more like forced relaxation. There are competing forces at work and they do not comfortably inhabit the same body, nor the same brain. I’ve been told yoga could be an answer.

But I don’t yet know whether I’m asking the right questions. So the answers I might get could be responses to irrelevant remarks, retorts to inquiries about inexplicable tensions between forces that are not opposed but simply incongruous. I mean, the questions may be unrelated and completely disconnected. Like asking whether it’s better to be kind to violent children or to prefer morphine over dandruff shampoo.

Am I being sufficiently opaque? I don’t mean to be. I really don’t. But I’m exploring long explored, yet still-uncharted, waters here. These are things I’ve long questioned, but about which I’ve never found satisfactory answers.

Perhaps calmness and serenity come only after turmoil and intensity. Smooth stones, frequently seen as symbols of serenity, are the result of long and violent interactions with the forces of nature: water, wind, collisions with other stones and sand. Perhaps my serenity will come only after I, too, have sufficient exposure to the broken shards of life on Earth to wear me down.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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