The search for serenity continues. It’s a search that will always be futile, like the pursuit of perfection, but its pursuit promises peace. The kind of peace that is forever elusive yet holds enough promise to keep us committed to its pursuit. Passing my fingertips over the keyboard without crafting any thoughts holds a similar promise. It’s as if I’m hoping that through some stroke of genius the clutter in my head and the weight on my shoulders will suddenly unpack itself beautifully in prose that will give it meaning and purpose. The stroke is there, but the genius is not.
There was a time when a slow deep breath with my eyes closed would cause the substance of my thoughts to surface while subduing the noise. Now, such a breath only reminds me of the shallowness of my breathing. It’s the shallowness that echoes the distractions of my life. Discarding the essentials while focusing on the embellishments. I see it around me all the time. I’ve spent fortune after fortune of hard-earned bonuses in the renovation of this piece of land each time hoping to create a comfortable space that will remove the clutter and allow for repose, yet so many iterations later I have yet to place even a basic bench in the backyard so that I may be able to enjoy the peaceful surrounds of a garden that is admired but rarely enjoyed.
My breath is like that bench. In misplaced moments I find myself inhaling deeply, feeling the release it offers, but losing focus on exhaling because the next breath is prompted again. Completing a thought, or a chore, or even a breath, have all become synonymous with restlessness. The chest tightens, the shoulders spasm, the neck stiffens, and the head pounds. But these are not my emotions being expressed through an unwilling body. It is echoes of the strife that exists around me. Strife that is disguised well. An unhealthy focus on needing to prevail leaves an underlying torrent of debris that threatens our composure the moment the crack in our armour reveals the wounds beneath.
Too often I notice too many with an outstretched hand to seemingly want to lift me out of the abyss of reality. I smile a silent smile at their obliviousness. They’re oblivious to the fact that I stepped into the abyss to cup my hands beneath their feet so that they may be lifted high enough to see what life is like beyond the surrender of their hope to the expectations that they have grown to embrace as reality. It’s the same distracted-ness that convinces us that the more effective our defenses the more wholesome our perspective, until we reach a point where we’re ready to offer those defenses to others before we even understand their reality.
It’s the tokens that count. The tokens that resonate with us in our search for familiarity of purpose. We see a struggle that, on the surface, resonates with a defining moment of our own and before even looking closer, let alone trying to understand, we present a promise of salvation not realising that such an uncalculated gesture in fact reveals our desperation for serenity more than it offers peace. I believe that life will only ever offer a psychosomatic relief from the trials of this world. As we prioritise our efforts on those things that provide relief or comfort, the impact of their poor cousins is deferred for only as long as we’re able to keep them away from the feast we hope to indulge in.
Life presents us with a spread of delicacies and trinkets, carefully concealing the sweat shops that operate behind the veil of obliviousness. Those that are restless through conviction peer behind that veil in their attempts to see the delicacies and trinkets for what they are, slowly finding themselves repulsed by it. Most prefer to indulge instead, believing that what lies behind the veil is unimportant, because it is only in the appreciation of the indulgence that gratitude is reflected. Gratitude is hollow when it appreciates the outcome without an understanding of the toil that made it possible.
Perhaps in that there is some truth. Perhaps it is the hollowness of the appreciation expressed by others towards our achievements in life that never fully heal the wounds that created the present moment. It’s a fleeting consolation that recedes when the darkness descends. The night is only as peaceful as the day’s indulgence, and the day’s indulgence is only as focused as the reflections of the night. Perhaps we should stop seeking fulfillment in the expression of gratitude from others. When we use that hollowness as a yardstick against which to measure our success, we subscribe to the insanity that dictates that the oblivious will define our peace. I just realised why the search continues.