It has occurred to me that the search for peace is illusory – mostly because we seek to move ourselves back to places we have been before, as though we can open the “control panel” of our lives and do a “syetem restore” to a time gone by. The problem is that it’s not the same system anymore. Along the way, hearts break, and so do spirits, and if we are honest, we accept that broken hearts and spirits cannot be fixed. We just find new systems for working around them.
So it’s a fool’s errand to hoist old hopes onto the sagging back of a broken life. As we hike through life’s cruelties, we tire, and although we look back on youth with a sort of drawn-out mourning, we know that even if we really wanted to carry it anymore, the energy we’d need to carry it has been left behind too.
An aging life is like a stone chiseled by relentless rains – it has lost its bold sheen, but also it has acquired the grace that comes with still standing. Be that as it may, a corroded rock is a corroded rock – it can’t be un-corroded. Likewise, we can’t relive what has already been lived. The best we can do, if we are to go back, is to revisit. And maybe in that, there actually is some peace to be found.
For some reason, I find myself drifting back lately to a time when I was 9 years old. My family lived in Pennsylvania. It was early in the morning, and it was still dark out. My mother, who had just ended a hushed telephone conversation, came into my room and parted the curtains in front of a window I was facing from my bed. There was a lamppost in the distance, and snowflakes were dancing in its glow – through its glow, really. My mother whispered, “It’s a winter wonderland out there. No school today. Go back to sleep.” And I tell you, in that moment, all the universe was perfection.
That was a different time, before all the unspeakable things came to pass that would make the reliving of it a preposterous fantasy. But I am trying to visit that place more often – and to be glad that, even though it can never happen again, it happened once.
By Brendan Beery