TW: mentions of blood, organ donation, death.
Blood, guts, organs, pregnancy.
Our class’ sociology readings for the week were based around organ and blood donation in society. Sometime in the middle of today’s discussion, I had to make an effort to stop my hands from shaking. The class brought to the forefront of my mind something that I pushed to the back as much as I could: the possibility of having to carry out decisions like these for my family. Being forced to cheerfully give up something that for years I had claimed as mine.
I sat in that class as all of us discussed the ramifications of these donations. Would we be comfortable donating them to a criminal? How much could we donate before we considered it enough? And as the conversation continued, I began to imagine my father’s cheerful eyes in a complete stranger’s face, and then my mother and then my brother, all in varying conditions.
The idea of my family as separate in the flesh and in the spirit is not one I have ever been able to internalize. Their presence in my life has always been tied to physical signifiers, such as a hug, their voices, even them covering me with a blanket at 3 a.m. Their presence away from these is…unthinkable.
It was at this time I began thinking of calm and inner peace and how much farther in that aspect, despite my somewhat equable demeanor of the last few months, I actually had to go.
Inner peace. The sun is shining inside you every day, birds tweet cheerfully and you have the power to turn a bad day into an amazing one through the power of self-care.
My life isn’t like that. I have days when I’m delirious with happiness over successfully cooking a meal for my friends. And then there are days when I brood over the fact that I’ve been rejected for three different opportunities in the last three months and can’t get over the feeling that it’s all I’ll amount to. Neither of these feelings means that I’m not working on finding my own version of calm. But that’s the central issue of the inner peace that’s marketed to us; it exists in a vacuum.
We all aspire to this ideal of inner peace, the one I’ve written about above, where we’re in control of our life all the time, when we can shape where it goes always. Doing this, we usually begin to conflate the idea with happiness, which is…almost the opposite of inner peace.
Obviously, I want to be happy and we all chase after that feeling everyday when we make our decisions. However, the idea of happiness as a constant that is always to be kept chained and next to us then begins to manifest itself in short term decisions. When happiness become a habit, we begin to crave it, not knowing how to deal with the other feelings we naturally have in the course of our lives.
The calm of inner peace isn’t like the happiness that must be pursued with a butterfly net in one hand. It’s about seeing that the birds aren’t chirping, the sun inside us sometimes changes nothing and no matter how much I try or you try, things still keep going wrong. In that way, inner peace for me is looking at a situation, knowing that it is possible that I can very possibly do nothing about it, and then letting that feeling go. Somehow, the brief realization of my own helplessness is enough to let me see that in the end, I am the one who is accountable to myself every single day. It’s okay if I can’t manage something today. Life is a process every day.
Since it is, there are multiple opportunities to experiment with all kinds of emotions and sit with them and feel them and think about them. When I allow myself to experience life slowly, every day, calm becomes about me recognizing this ability we all have to experience a wide range of feelings, from frustration to anger to euphoria, and still working towards being the best version of myself possible.
Calm isn’t about working away from your feelings. It’s about working with your feelings and taking their help. If I can’t separate the idea of my parents from their everyday, physical presence, it’s fine. Maybe I’m not meant to, right now. But I will use those feelings of panic and terror that I felt in my sociology class to propel me towards loving my parents more, understanding them more, so that the concept of a future without them isn’t as terrifying, because I’ll have known my parents as my parents and as individuals. Trying to transcend that fear and panic through ignoring them and attaching myself to only myself isn’t going to help me because it doesn’t really help my growth as a person, it only locks off parts of myself. I want inner peace to be gradual, so that it can push me to love, to learn and to know how to transform anger into something better, rather than it breaking my back when I try to reach it.
I’m going to post this and go over my sociology notes again.
This ‘inner peace’ thing is a journey right now. I don’t think it’ll ever end.
And I’m okay with that.