A Peaceful Place
Babbling Brook, Budding Tree
Green leaves, soft grass and a gentile breeze; what makes a peaceful place? The light filters through the thin dark branches of the larch filling the bottoms of the marshy hollows. A narrow boardwalk winds its way across the spongy peat that hides the mysteries of the acidy bog. The pterodactylisc shadow of a Palliated Woodpecker glides silently through the trees skirting the bog. Grey Jays and a myriad of warblers fill the air with their chorus of song. The warm gentile breeze of late spring soothes the soul of those who visit and wander below these cerulean blue skies, cooled by the transpiration of the dense vegetation in these northern woods. A squirrel effortlessly jumps from branch to branch.
place for one person may be a quiet bog tucked in to the Northern Hardwood
Forest of New England. For others it may be in the middle of the city. The
green lawn of
With each step moving a little faster, each stride stretching a little longer, his breathing eases. His pulse quickens the heat from the fresh warm blood works his tense muscles. With time his calves and thighs begin to relax. As they warm up, their sinuous stands lengthen, releasing the knots and tension. With the release in his legs comes relief in his back and shoulders. With his relaxed gait, he rolls his neck and allows the tension in his neck to escape. Soon his entire body is flowing with fluid motion. Flowing across the country trail, he resembles a rolling river. With the eased relaxed gait, the tensions of the day and week slip away. The toils of work and family pass from the deepest reassesses of his mind. All that is left are the elation and peace found in strenuous physical activity.
What ever it is that creates a peaceful place for an individual, it is important that it starts as a place inside. The most peaceful place regardless of location is a peaceful heart and calm mind. I am most comfortable ambling through the woods and gazing upon passerines. I become extremely self conscious or anxious around crowds or busy areas. I recently was on a cross-country ski trip though a pristine beautiful area. There was not a soul to be seen. Snow was gently falling through the trees. This should have been the quintessential, perfect peaceful place for me, save one thing. My mind was extremely busy. My mind was on many painful and occupying thoughts. My mind was not at peace. For me, this place, while beautiful was not particularly peaceful. In contrast I can remember having visited the Longwood Gardens Bromeliad exhibit. This exhibit was packed with people that were mostly in continuous movement. While I gazed upon the beautiful Guzmania cascading off of the epiphytes, or admired the wall carpeted with miniature Tillandsia, the waterfall, which flowed through the room, lulled me into another place. Slowly the magic of this room pulled away all of my toils and for a few minutes I found myself at true peace, there among a crowd of people. I know that it was simply because my mind was in a place receptive to the peaceful suggestions of the arboretum.
By no means would I discount the value of the actual place in the experience of peace. But with out the mindset and the openness of the heart to a peaceful mood, is one really going to find peace, despite how beautiful and calming a location or activity might be? James Allen begins his small literary work, “As a Man Thinketh” (Peter Pauper Press, Inc., NY) with the thoughtful words on the thoughts of men. “The aphorism, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,’ not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life.” Later in this same book, he talks more specifically about the mind affecting you and your physical well-being. “Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the creatures of diseases; while impure thoughts, even those if not physically indulged will soon shatter the nervous system.
Strong, pure, and happy thoughts build up the body in vigor and grace. The body is a delicate and plastic instrument, which will respond readily to the thoughts by which it is impressed, and habits of thought will produce their own effects, good or bad, upon it.” The point of habits is an especially crucial one to re-emphasize, especially with the pace and tension sustained by our society today. Humans are creatures of habit. If you are one in the habit of seeing the proverbial glass half full then the waters of the river of life is more apt to flow smoothly. In contrast when your habit is to always see the empty half you likewise will also always see rough waters and conversely feel them. Changing these habits is no small task as any one who has tried to stop a habit as trivial as snapping fingers or fidgeting can tell you. Not to belittle the challenge of over coming other habits, but try to over come something as pervasive as your very thought patterns. That is what I am suggesting. For those that tend to the side of the glass half empty, your challenge is to work you mind to see the other side of the glass first. The benefits are unending.
habit all of the battle. Certainly not all of life is dictated by how we
look at it. If that were the case, no one person would ever allow themselves to
see the empty half. We are all given difficult card in our life. Perhaps no one
persons is ever worse then another’s. God and life gives each of us what we are
individually capable of handling. From that lens, if I am in a small boat with
a quarter sized hole or a big boat with a fist sized
hole, when am I worse off? The answer is that you do not want to be in a boat
with a hole. I am given pause to think of John Muir. His writings teach us to
be stewards of the land and to love, cherish and respect the natural wonders
around us. His life gives us legend and lore, many true many questioned.
Perhaps one of the best lessons to be gained from his life is his approach to
adversity. Two tails of adversity in Mr. Muir’s life illustrate this. When he
was still young, he felt he could no longer deal with the oppression of his
childhood home so he walked to
Edward Abby Opens his
beautiful description of life in the retreat of
For the GLBT community there are three searches for peace there is the search for peace in the individual coming out process. Once out, an individual is confronted with a new person that they now must get to know. As they get to know that person, the must now learn what peace is for their new self and spirit and then go in search of peace. There is also a community wide search for peace that is confused, confounded and changing every day and the community discovers whom it is comprised of. Going through the, “Coming Out” process there is three small points that can help lead to a more peaceful journey. Remember that this is all terribly new and every day will be for you and all of those around you. Any one who says differently is lying. Also remember that you have probably been thinking about this in your head for some time while the people you share your new found self with may not have had the same insight, but they also might have. Finally, always be healthy. This is the most important part. If you do not take care of yourself and stay healthy your mind will not be open to peace your heart will close to peace and you will only see the glass as half empty. Translation, rough waters. Know that there are others out there that are like you and that you are accepted. You may not have met them but they are out there and believe me, they are cool people and they love you.
So you’re out. But have you
found that peace full place? What makes a peaceful place? With luck it will be
easier to now see the full half of the glass and the smoother waters. Open your
mind and feel the freedom to accept the rewards from the climb up to the up to
the beautiful vista that is now before you. You are giving the buoyant portion
of your life. Feel the uplift of life beneath your wings. Now that you are out,
each day, come out to your self. Start your day by introducing your self to
that new person in the mirror. Learn what that person wants in a peaceful
place. Seek out in your own mind what you truly want in life. When you think
you know, ask your heart. In his essay, “What do our Hearts Treasure?” E. B.
White clearly illustrates that the things our minds desire and tell us that we
need are often not the needs of our hearts. As he tells the tale of his first
Recently I have begun my
own exploration of our colorful and amorphous community. With its ever
changing, growing and maturing citizenship, I am finding it difficult to wrap
my arms around and embrace its national context as an American might the
But on the national front I
still find myself unable to see a community at peace. I see the collective
body. I see the literature, music, art, all of the forms to build a culture. I
hear the politics and banter and see the organizations. I see all of the parts
to make a body of a society. The businesses are there to sell for commerce and
the media for publicity, hype and entertainment. Even the services for the
community are forming. But there is no sense of place that I am able to
discern, not on the national picture. For me it is still to
muddled by the other side of the door. I have begun reading, “All The Rage” by Suzanna Danuta Walters (
As the community grows stronger it will be easier for the individual to find their own inner strength. But regardless of what path lies before us, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Heterosexual or what ever you orientation or challenge in life we must all find the seeker in us and continue to ask our minds what they want in life and then ask our hearts. We must always seek out and find the perfect peaceful place wherever it may be.
The beautiful orange and white Koi is accented with flakes of gold. Swimming beneath the giant petals of the Asian lilies, gentle bubbles rise from its massive gills. Shaded from the powerful sun, free from harm, bliss, the Koi is at peace. On the surface of the pond not even a ripple stirs. A majestic monarch, flashing its radiant gold and black, floats south toward the coastal eucalyptus where it will feed for the winter. The soft breezes of the coast pass across the tip of the peninsula, hinting at the cold night air to come. Fog, building on the coast threatens but does not break the pristine tranquility of the pond and the surrounding beauty. Rhododendrons, in full bloom, fill the air with sweet pungent aroma. Tea trees shade the pagoda proudly yet mysteriously sitting beside the pond. A young child sits swinging her leg off the edge of the pagoda, watching a fish swim by. She giggles. She is in a total place of peace. Across the pond a pack of bicyclists races by rounding the corner and turning down the city street. They make a few more turns and head into the military base. Passing underneath one of the busiest bridges in the country at the peak of rush hour they head out across the tip of the peninsula toward the open coast. A quarter inch between each tire, two inches between each hand, they are focused, and working like one tuned system. They are in a place of peace as a team. They pass a small house, with a light on inside. Is it your house? Are you at peace? I hope so.