Good morning, everyone ~

At this early hour of this new day, as the household is sleeping and the neighborhood has quieted down, it’s easy to believe that all is well in the world. Yet, part of my brain pops open a cascade of awareness that peace is both fragile and fleeting. Even trying to maintain an inner sense of peace is difficult. I remember something my mother once said to my dad: “Half the people were put here on Earth to aggravate the other half!”

We humans are easily frustrated by our fellow human beings. And it’s much easier to allow that frustration to flow in unfettered outpouring torrents of anger toward others. We have one person in the neighborhood whose reputation for aggravation is almost legendary. She is known by temper far-n-wide throughout the city. In her younger years, it seemed a weekly event to have a police car arrive at her house, or to witness a domestic dispute unfolding on her lawn, or to be awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of slamming doors/revving car engines/loud voices. At such times, I would be reminded of my mother’s assessment of humanity.

This neighbor has mellowed through the years, thankfully. The rowdy times are now few/far between/less dramatic. I wish I could say as much for the state of the world. Alas, some folks simply do not mellow through time, and their method of aggravating the other half, the peace-abiding half tends to escalate. Just listen to five minutes of the evening world-news-tonight and you’ll understand what I mean.

Not long ago, someone screamed at me: “You f-ing pacifist!” The person meant it as an insult. Their degree of anger reminded me of my mother as she declared her “half the people” philosophy, and my childhood brain-files of that long-ago moment in my personal history cascaded all around me in a puddle or renewed choice: I choose inner peace.

Yes, there are times when it is absolutely necessary to defend one’s self or a loved one or one’s home/country. Yes, I have my moments when my thoughts/feelings/words/reactions are anything but peacekeeping. Self-training in inner peace requires a lot of invisible work. The hardest part being the choice to do so.

Why choose to do so, especially when it’s far easier to aggravate/be aggravating than to maintain composure under attack? 

Perhaps the answer to that is too personal to express. It’s as complicated as the “Why?” that accompanies many other decisions in Life. Why bother being good when the rest of the world is being so bad? Why save toward a legacy to leave our children when they have no clue about the degree of sacrifice that involves? Why pray for/believe in peace on Earth/people of good will when the proverbial finger-of-fate is poised over the button of mass extinction? 

Why NOT?????? So long as we keep choosing peace, the potential for peace exists. Otherwise, we increase our own/others’ pain. If there is a choice to be made, why NOT choose peace … especially in our own homes, with the people we love, with the people who are hurting, frightened, aggravated/aggravating. 

As I write this, the Internet connection keeps getting interrupted. A notice pops up on the computer screen: Not connected. It has been a source of aggravation, because it feels like a betrayal of all the promises made to us about the benefits/efficiency/ efficacy of the World Wide Web. Staying connected, after all, is at the hub of good mental/emotional health. We have evolved technology in measureless ways/degrees from the days of cowboys on horseback, travelers by wagon/stagecoach, ocean-crossing steamers. We can speak to someone on the other side of the planet in mere moments. Astronauts on the Space Station or the moon communicate with ground-control in almost real time. It works like magic … when it works; and when it doesn’t, our very survival feels threatened, and our instincts are to fight-for-life.

Normal. Natural. It’s part of our DNA. What separates us from that basic survival-based instinctive reaction is our ability to understand that to fight for life often means that one or both fighters is going to die, or be seriously injured. It sounds counter-intuitive then to fight for life at the price of death/destruction. Who will be left to enjoy the “life” if we’re all dead, maimed, forever injured?

Yet, to draw personal boundaries, to protect self from the ravages of another person’s inner war, even a pacifist has the right to say “no”. Choosing peace is not the same thing as lying down while someone else causes harm/injury/lethal wounds. Choosing peace means that we stop injuring self with stinking-thinking, relentless anger, harsh judgment, actions that cause more harm than peace to self and/or others. 

It is too early in the morning to delve deeply into such philosophical meanderings. For now, there is peace in this house/ neighborhood. I cannot speak for other households/communities/cities/countries. Chances are, I would not need to look far afield to find some degree of “war” taking place. It is enough, for me, here-n-now to be aware of this existing place of peace. And here, in this moment, my sense of inner peace is one of “good medicine” … a healing balm for all that in my lifetime has injured, maimed, broken or simply aggravated me. 

Another type of “good medicine” is the laughter that is born within our Group/private sessions. It is my hope/prayer that we can continue with our weekly Group session meetings at the Senior Center. My injuries have healed enough to allow a gradual return to pre-COVID/pre-injury activities. As before, we will meet on Fridays; 1-5:00 … drop in when you can/leave the meeting as you need to. Bring a snack and your own beverage or water bottle. We will gather in the last room on the right at the end of the hall. 

“Management” — to manage is to engage the skillful use of tools toward resolution of a condition, state of being, problem, etc. 

To manage pain regardless of its cause or source requires a variety of “tools” and methods, and most of all a willingness to choose to skillfully use those “tools”. Like war, pain cannot be magically disappeared simply because we choose peace. There is no magic cure for either; no magic formula for lasting pain-free peace. But, we CAN manage to create moments when we are at peace in our body and with our loved ones/neighbors/co-workers, etc. We may not be able to maintain such moments of peaceful “connection”; however, moments do add up to hours/days/months/years. Worth the effort? You bet’cha!

Stay willing to keep connecting. Stay skillful in your management of YOU — no one else should do it, no one else can do it. Stay  aware of your own sense of inner peace (or as much as possible, moment-by-moment, when the screaming-pain is unrelenting). Any measure of inner peace is enough to count as peace. And every small effort adds up to a positive difference.

Looking forward to seeing you as we move forward with reconnecting in our Pain Management Support Group sessions!

Gentle hugs/much love,