So I have noticed an unfamiliar, but pleasant feeling of late. I have tried to recognize it but it is a tough one to pin down. It is not actually joy or happiness, it is quieter than that. It comes and goes and I want more of it. It dawned on me while walking my doggy one day last week that perhaps this is what is meant by “serenity.” I mentioned it in a recovery meeting and then went home to do a little more research on what “serenity” actually means. According to google, serenity boils down to peace, tranquility, or equanimity DESPITE the presence of strife or stress. WOW. That sounds like I have some choice over how I deal with outer or inner turmoil – that there might be some access to a state of being that is peaceful even in the midst of “stuff.” I have been ruminating on that idea.
Last night my son simply did not come home following school. He lost his phone this past weekend at a grad party. Insert eye roll and deep sigh here. He was to meet my husband for a ride home yesterday but he didn’t show up. And of course, we have no way of contacting him. Now normally there would be lots of irritability peppered with fear about his whereabouts. If he’s okay – great – but man is he inconsiderate and after all we have taught him and modelled, he SHOULD do better! Let the anger take over and there is no telling how boiling mad I can get… If he is not okay – I should be out searching the freezing cold streets for his unconscious body. Yup, thats where my mind can go if fear is allowed to rule the mind. Last night I allowed both the anger and fear in my mind to pass on by without climbing aboard for the miserable ride. I did what I could to get in touch with him – sent a message to his IPAD and another to Facebook. And with that, I went to my yoga class. Those thinking patterns: anger tvs fear, would bubble up every so often, but I did not focus on them or allow myself to give them much attention. An ignored guest quickly leaves. Instead, I told myself that he would likely be home when my class was finished and if he wasn’t THEN I would make a plan for the next right action.
What strikes me is how different this reaction is to my usual mind rodeo… Previously I would have been so angry that yoga would not have been an option and the fear of harm to my son would have debilitated me even further. There is no need for this. In fact, it is a huge waste of energy and serenity cannot exist in a place like that. I could not do much about the present situation except accept it – ahhhh – there is that feeling again: must be serenity because the situation had the potential to cause lots of angst but I chose something different. I don’t have to like the situation to accept it. And there was that feeling – calm, peace, tranquility.
I left my yoga class and called home. My boy was home doing homework. When I arrived, we discussed consideration of others and the responsibilty to let those you live with know where you are. Had I allowed my anger or fear to rule the day there would have been lots of yelling directly following the brief relief felt at his safe arrival home. Then I would have felt I “deserved” a glass of wine followed by more because of all the “stress” that came my way, when actually I was CREATING the stress and anger and fear… My angry response would have shut down any chance of a teachable moment with him. I saved myself so much suffering by simply accepting the situation as it was. And the gift was serenity in the midst of a situation I didn’t like. Day after day I am amazed at how many gifts I continue to open by living a sober life. And this serenity thing? It’s a keeper, thanks very much!