It’s a warm, sunny day on campus as I slip out of my windowless room for a vitamin D (and coffee) break. Away from the humming AC and fluorescent lights, the often oppressive Texas heat feels like a balm. It’s during these little breaks that I cherish the feeling of the sun on my skin while observing the tropical flowers at their peak this time of year. As soon as I step outside into the outdoor climate, I think, this is peace. Everyone deserves this.
The definition of peace varies for everyone, of course. Heavy metal and weightlifting may be another person’s version of quiet afternoons and hot coffee or flowers and sunshine. At this point in the wellness and self-care revolution, most of us realize that these moments, however we spend them, are necessary for us to recharge, feel better and feel ourselves, and ultimately, grow. We may even realize that we need these self-nourishing moments to put us in a better position to be of service to others.
But understanding that we have a need is only a part of the equation.
We all know we need water, and I doubt that any of us question whether or not we deserve it. Water, like fair treatment, is a human right. The thing with the experience of peaceful moments, however, is that we can technically get by while being starved of it. Also, our culture tends to prioritize busyness, hustling, and go-go-go mode, so it may feel like putting in more work and more sacrifice is ultimately more beneficial to our well-being or survival (though the thinking on this seems to be slowly changing, thank goodness).
Moreover, for some of us, it’s easy to feel that, deep down, maybe we don’t deserve times of peace. After all, headline after headline reminds us that the world is in turmoil. In some instances, we may be able to help or contribute to positive efforts (such voting or adopting environmentally friendly habits), but often, the crises we hear about are far beyond our control (including many tragedies—and even the awareness that something bad is happening somewhere even if you don’t know what or where) .
Either way, it can be hard to wrap your head around your role in world. In the first case, you may feel pressured from either yourself or other activists to fight every battle that can be fought, and in the latter case, it’s only natural to sense our helplessness or feel useless—even when we know we have some agency and a lot to offer the world! I’ve often had the thought, who am I to feel whole and supported by the universe?
Finally, our own pasts and personal flaws may haunt us at just the time we have a moment to be with our own thoughts or joyful activities. Maybe we recently said something we shouldn’t have or caught ourselves in a moment of feeling ungrateful. Perhaps we were the victim of a hurtful wrongdoing that continues to trail us make our thoughts heavy. Maybe peace and spiritual wellness are for other people, you may wonder.
I don’t have a well-honed philosophy for how to emotionally thrive in a difficult world—and I’m not the person to ask when it comes to how much we should contribute our time and resources to various causes. I don’t have the answers and feel far from figuring these things out for myself. However, I’m sure of some things.
You deserve more than getting by.
You deserve to be free from feeling pressured to save the world beyond your capacities.
You deserve peace.
Coming from the academic tradition, I’m wired with the urge to provide evidence to substantiate any claim I make, but this normally solid approach crumbles in the face of most spiritual quests and truths. It would be futile, for me at least, to try to lay out a reasoned approach to explain why we all deserve peace without resorting to a circular argument: You deserve it because you deserve it.
While opening myself to the June warmth and humidity, the notion that we all need and deserve the peace I was experiencing washed over me. While I don’t normally believe that I’m a vessel for channeling a message from a higher place, I did feel that the nature and quietness around me were conveying a truth that defies explanation and reason—a truth that just is.
Connectedness, meaning, deep joy, a sense of wholeness and enoughness—all these should be yours.
Whenever you have the opportunity to experience these and the peace that accompanies them, take it. You deserve them. Even if the timing seems odd or the context unusual–and even if you don’t think you do.
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