D. Louise Brown

Louise Brown

Does peace exist anymore? Don’t most of us want at least one moment in each day when we can pause, detach from the weight of everything pressing in on us, ponder something quiet, and then pull ourselves back together? But the chaotic clamor of this world seems determined to snatch any chance for peace of mind from us.

Ironically, the noisy, obnoxious, peace-thieving internet lists lots of ways to find peace. A search yields recommendations that range from turn a deaf ear to your critics to consume more chocolate. Both suggestions are some of the more logical ones since critics of every kind will be the first to shred your peace if you let them, and chocolate (dark anyway) is a decent cure-all for many troubles. Other suggestions include: Keep a “peace journal” of times when you do feel peace, and why; Abandon the concept of world peace because it isn’t going to happen; Retreat from people who drag you away from your peace of mind (including — or especially — family and/or friends); Define your relationship with Heaven; Never, ever expect to find any peace-generating material on social media (ironic, isn’t it?); Do something good for someone who needs peace even more than you do (this one actually makes a lot of sense); Share your peace when you feel it’s right, but never give it away to someone who demands it.

The challenge with peace, especially peace of mind, is that we can’t just say we want to have it and then we do. Peace is something we have to work for. ...

Another peace-generating suggestion is to mend a rift. Actually, a rift between a friend and me is the reason I was searching for ways to find peace of mind. I did something that made him angry enough to demand some face-to-face time with me where he planned to give me a piece of his mind. Let me say now that it may seem impossible to find peace of mind from a person who wants to give you a piece of his mind. But hold that thought.

The truth is, I didn’t want to meet with him because I thought he was making a mountain out of a molehill. For a while I put him off, believing him petty and trivial, oversensitive and silly. I questioned if a problem even really existed. I thought giving him his moment to unload would encourage him to look for even more perceived offenses. I figured that given some time, this would go away, and we’d both have peace again. Yes, I made up a lot of excuses for not sitting down with him.

But peace didn’t come. His frustration seeped into my world, hanging like a dark, persistent cloud over everything I thought and said and did. I finally admitted my peace of mind was beyond reach until I gave him the chance to give me his piece of mind.

So we met. We sat across a kitchen table from each other in an empty house and he let me have it, reading from a list of his grievances he held in his hand. Part of me indignantly riled up. I wanted to fight, wanted to lash back, wanted to spar with him, wanted the upper hand, the better half, the last word. I wanted to win, win, win.

Would that winning have brought me peace of mind? No. It would have brought a momentary, victorious elation. But if he’d gone away from there still angry, then neither of us would have won. He’d still be mad, and I’d still be unsettled. He had to have his moment, and I was the only one who could give it to him.

So we talked. Well, first I listened — for a long time. Someone once taught me to try to first understand before trying to be understood. And this discussion was all about that. At first glance his grievances seemed trivial to me — until I really listened to understand where he was coming from, to see his thoughts through his eyes. And then, well, I understood. Then accepted. And finally offered sincere, rightfully sought-for apologies.

We parted as friends. Was it easy? Not at all. Most things worth having aren’t. But we both learned a life changing lesson: to receive a piece of mind to achieve peace of mind is actually possible — and definitely worth it.

D. Louise Brown lives in Layton. She writes a biweekly column for the Standard-Examiner.

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