Several years ago I noticed the trend of taking on a ‘word for the year’; choosing something that you wanted to integrate into your life. A concept to hang your actions on and to consider when you are making decisions. Given that I’ve seldom met a bandwagon that I haven’t wanted to jump on board with reckless and ill thought out abandon, I chose ‘wisdom’ (because who doesn’t want a shot of that?), got the word engraved on a pendant (no, really- a bandwagon WITH accessories. Best. Thing. Ever) and proceeded to live out an absolute shocker of a year. Seriously, it was awful. I was a complete arse and there wasn’t a bad decision or ill advised comment that I didn’t participate in. I actually took the necklace off halfway through the year because I was being such a dick. True story.
But here I am again, centreing my year around a word. This time, it’s ‘Peace’.
And in my defence, I don’t feel that I as much choose it as I was led towards it. Over the last few weeks, I’ve unconsciously almost, revisited or attempted to take on behaviours that have, at their heart, this word.
First, I’ve committed to Veganism again, at least for a little while. I’ll see how that goes but there’s no better way of living out a life of peace than refusing to involve yourself in an industry that has, at its heart, death.
And then there’s the concerted effort that I’m making to yell less at my children. I have the great responsibility and honour of raising four future- men, and no matter how you look at it, what they learn and experience at home will decide to a huge extent their future paths. We talk, we read, we empathise, we meditate and we help, but when the chips are down, I’m a yeller.
I yell more than I’d like to. Not all the time, don’t get me wrong, I’m not constantly hoarse because of belting out commands ( although some days…).
But only at my children of course, because I’m not going to yell at actual people who matter, am I?
Where else in life is it acceptable to use violence without the fear of repercussion?
I yell at my children because I’m annoyed about other things. When I want to yell at my partner, my coworkers, the world in general. My household can be loud, frenetic, boisterous and sometimes I find myself angry and resentful like a petulant child because no-one cares what I want dammit and instead of breathing it away or counting or placing psalm 46 in my mind I get angry and how can that ever end any way but badly?
Or course there’s my constant striving to teach my boys about peace, about love, about great people who have gone before us demonstrating strength and wisdom and patience (this book is a favourite; Peaceful Heroes) but is there any point at all if they’re not watching me live it?
Cultivating peace is the single most powerful tool that we have to becoming better parents, better partners, better followers and better activist. Being ‘peaceful’ doesn’t mean being comfortable all the time and it doesn’t mean sealing yourself off from influences that disconcert you (although that’s not always a bad thing) but instead it involves cultivating a mindset of constant calibration- are my actions and words coming from a place of peace? Often times the answer will be ‘no’ but I’m hoping that if I bring a prayerful mindfulness into the equation, I’ll be on the way. ish…
So my mission this year is to focus on peace; to call it down when I need it (which is always and often) and try to capture and nurture the wisdom to centre my soul on it.
I should probably order a necklace actually…