There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the paper, a lot more unknown and hidden behind the byline. And some may say that it’s easy for me to speak of peace in the shadow of the redwoods away from the roving DC sniper and the bombs of the Holy Land. And they would be absolutely right. I have been fortunate enough to escape such crises in my own life for the time being, and it is very easy for me to speak of peace, as well as breathe it in and out all day. And that is the very reason that I do it. Many people don’t have that option. Perhaps I’m trying to balance the scales because too many of us are slipping to the other side because of the enchanting allure of emotion inherent in the gravity of our situations. Too many of us carry too much weight in basket loads of despair, instead of dumping out some worries and having a more carefree picnic.
I mentioned before the writers who have come my way over the last year and the lessons I’ve learned from them or was often reminded of through their words. One such writer, a visionary wordsmith who has yet to cease blowing my mind, is Tom Robbins. And as I close this chapter and head south to a warmer horizon with slightly fuller pockets, work-weathered hands, and a well-earned smile, a fierce invalid headed to hot climates, I leave you with one of his thoughts to ponder at stoplights and during muted commercial breaks.
“People of the world – relax.”
Before you stress, before you worry, before you fear, before you judge, relax. Before you work, before you eat, before you sleep, before you shop, relax. The only thing facing you is a moment. Relax. Relish it. Learn from it, and move to the next one. It’s sometimes harder to practice than to write about, but it’s an acquired skill I’ve found to be worth engaging.
And right now, with the climate of our culture – our environment of group individuality, stable insecurity, and life-affirming fear – this is my hope for the world: that those who can relax will. Relax our preconceived notions about our fellow man. Relax our fears over his intentions. Relax our habit of comparing our lives to his. Relax our grip on the control that eludes us anyway. Relax our schedules of always seeking more than enough. Relax our priorities of getting more than we need. Relax the muscles in our faces and the consternation in our voices. Relax our need to voice our opinions and, instead, look them over again. Relax our need to teach, and recall our need to learn. Relax our need to be right. Relax our need to be secured when we’re already safe. Security is a wonderful thing until it makes that subtle switch to bondage. I only have enough respect for life to know that it must be lived.
If you can wake up in the morning, lie still, blink, and stretch, you have the possibility for peace. Take a deep breath, and before your lungs are even full, before you decide upon a mood, before you face the dilemmas you’ve created for yourself, before your feet touch the floor, relax. Exhale. Repeat that breath throughout your day.
People of the world – relax.
This is an excerpt of The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Buy your copy of the eBook on Amazon.com.