Slightly troubled thoughts today, while completing chores and contemplating the world in which I live. I have experienced unease and discord in disconcerting amounts, not by design but by circumstance. A side effect, perhaps, of too much television and Internet. The world is an unsettled place and it seeps in if we are not careful.
I considered this in my own mind, as I barked a curse at an inattentive driver today on the road. I was running an errand on my way to lunch. Hunger and impatience getting the best of me. The temper flared and I said something that induced in me mild regret. I know better that what I do, sometimes, yet I have been unable to entirely refrain from anger, spite, and irritation at my fellow humans.
Amusing, perhaps. That ideal behavior is something we expect from pacifists and clergy folk, monks and nuns. I am far from being any of those exemplars, yet I often expect myself to act as one. I sometimes actively wish for the patience and beatitude one expects of saints. Occasionally I manage the trick, if ever so briefly. The sensation often catches me by surprise. Alas, my self-awareness of it is the finger touching the soap bubble and POP! it is gone.
Ah, I am digressing, in my own meditation. Why does all of this matter? What is the cause of this discord? It occurred to me today, after reading too much news and inanity in the Internet, that much of it springs from the feeling that we live in a Land of War, an American bellum Terra. Aggression is built into our culture, our patriotism, our propriety towards nations and neighbors. Everything, even the simple act of our daily existence, is framed in terms of war, conflict, and competition. The prevailing militancy and mean-spiritedness has turned everything into fight for survival, even when it is no such thing.
I meditated today on my own expressions of aggression. I realized I had allowed the pettiness and selfishness of a few to infect and disrupt my own better nature. I understood that some of the nameless dissatisfaction and formless irritation I felt was because I let it affect me. I did something simple to reset my head.
I cut the grass in my yard.
For thirty-five minutes, nothing more was demanded of me than to push, cut, turn, and repeat. It was a cool morning, and I warmed up quickly as I let myself be taken up by the task. The working of muscles, the meter of the breathing, the intake of fresh morning air into my lungs: this integration of mind and body brought me back together much like that moment at which the camera lens spins into focus, and the image is sharp before the eye. I needed the physical action to knock my mental actions back onto a better track.
When I was done, I returned indoors and rested a bit. My gut had relaxed, my mind was no longer roiled. I felt a slight pang of shame in that I had allowed the world at large to pull me away from my better nature. But I also felt so much better that I was able to come back. The world, and the people in it, can make you mean, to be sure. As to myself, lesson learned. Serenity takes work, too, and it does not pay to let the selfish, the hateful, and the uncaring dictate the course of our actions.
I will never be a saint. This is okay, I don't want to be a saint. What I do want is to be a placidis hominum, (peaceful human) to those I love and those I meet. In the land of war, peace is water for thirsty soil, and I have much to grow.