Searching for Peace (piece by piece)


Standing at the brink of a thousand foot cliff makes you think.  The gulls sailing in the air probably don’t have the same thoughts a human has with all that distance under them. They can stop the mad plunge, turn it into a magnificent swoop and carry off a delicious wiggling fish. For them, the sky is a place to relax and be a bird or something. Anything they want.

A thousand feet.

It provokes thought. Weird thoughts, like, what would it be like to jump or just relax like a gull and fall forward into all that roiling air and close my eyes and feel weightless and free if only for few moments. I wonder how many people, if the knew that had just minutes to live and they were standing at the edge of a cliff, would fall into all that emptiness. Smiling.

Or making their last selfie.

A thousand feet.

The soap had a point…we can make things real by accepting them as real. Thousand foot thought.

People jump out of perfectly safe airplanes…wearing parachutes of course. And that’s another thousand foot thought…accepting that the parachutes will open. Accepting that they were packed right, that they have no defects. Some people would call this trust. I’d say it’s more like accepting their fate, one way or the other.

I read about a man who jumped out of a perfectly safe airplane and his parachute didn’t open. But he landed safely. Don’t know all the details but I always wondered if he screamed all the way down…or just accepted that he was about to die and enjoyed the ride down.

Or maybe he just accepted that he would be OK. “Yep, on my way down. Wicked nice view. Gonna land safely. Takin’ a selfie. Lookin’ good. Oh look…a hundred foot long mattress. Everything’s gonna be OK.”

Everything we approach with enthusiasm starts with acceptance, the notion that things will turn out the way we expect them to turn out, the way we want them to turn out.

“Where you going with this, Biff?” said the fox.

“Not sure, fox,” I said. “Thanks for the interruption.”

“Anytime, Biff,” said the fox. “

Now, where was I? Oh yeah…acceptance. We accept so much, not because we want to or don’t want to, but because we need to accept things. We need to accept that the sun will rise no matter how many rainy days fill out lives. We need to accept that the tanning lotion we’re going to buy will be used. Or why would be buy it? Everything we do and everything we are depends on some degree of acceptance.

In one of his books on self-esteem, Nathaniel Brandon suggested that we stand in front of a mirror, naked, looking closely, and just accept ourselves. Without having to like or hate ourselves. Just accepting ourselves. All the good. All the bad. Just accepting.

What a non-judgmental thought. What a beautiful concept. The freedom from judgment. And once we refuse to judge ourselves, we can be free of judgment from others. And maybe even be free of judging others.

How can someone who can honestly accepts themselves…see themselves for all they are and just accept…believe that they are any better or any worse than anyone else?

“Hey, Biff,” said the fox. “Lookit me…standing in front of a mirror, naked, just accepting me without judgment. What a cutie am I.”

“Fox,” I said. “Please don’t smile. You have no idea how disturbing that is.”

“Judging me, Biff?” said the fox. “Maybe you should try this.”

So there I was, standing naked in front of a mirror (by a thousand foot cliff) in all the glory of my still too large belly (even after going from a 35 to a 31 waist and having to buy all new pants), the wrinkles and crooked teeth from too many fights and the scar on my jaw from too much Scotch (and a failed bout with gravity) and…well all of it me. Including the not so bad shoulders and blue eyes.

So I didn’t throw up.

“Hey, fox,” I said. “Lookit my cute little pug nose. And please stop smiling. Try grinning.”

The fox grinned.


(To be continued. A closer look at acceptance.)

“Maybe the world would be a more peaceful place if there were more mirrors in it,” said the fox.

“Let’s look at that,” I said.

“You know, Biff,” said the fox, “you really do have cute little pug nose.”

“Thanks, fox,” I said.

“And my grin?” said the fox.

“I think I’ll need a lot more time on the mirror for that.”