"Peace is a place within"
Publishing this October issue posed a bit of a challenge, spiritually, as my travels uprooted me from my majestic mountains and tidal waters to asphalt biking/hiking/roller-blading paths tucked between road-raged freeways and cookie-cutter mansions. In accepting the challenge to maintain the serenity and peacefulness so easily found in my salty-breeze town nestled under the Olympics, I discovered the simple secret to feeling calm and peaceful in the midst of chaos. The answer was revealed in the process, so be patient and read on.
It all started with my suburban "commute" in northern Silicon Valley, which consisted of a 2.5 mile walk each way on a busy fitness path. This was my preferred alternative to driving which amusingly struck my colleagues as a hearty physical undertaking. In addition to the obvious physical benefits of walking, it provided me time to think, pray, meditate and smile at passersby. However, to my dismay, not everyone smiled back, motorized "Razors" irritatingly and loudly buzzed by, and this fitness path cut through tall, shiny buildings and intersected fast and flashy cars. Regardless, I have found peace during this commute and the "regulars" on this fitness byway, who previously did not return smiles, eventually exposed shiny smiles and eyes. Persistence paid off! First part of the answer: Take time to be quiet and keep smiling, believing you are caressing humanity and making a difference.
During one of my evening walks I proceeded to enjoy bird-watching (like we all do back home) and two chartreuse parakeets caught my eye. At first I thought I was observing rare native birds, then I realized this "couple" had escaped its caged home but, I wanted to collaborate with someone and share this Audobon moment. So, I pranced, wide-eyed and excitedly pointing at these birds on the trail, attempting to share my delight, only to receive strange looks as if I had escaped from the cuckoo's nest. Then I laughed at myself realizing how silly I must look, feeling grateful at the joy these birds brought me and wishing the members of this outdoor gym would someday stop and jump with joy at mere birds. Second part of the answer: observe and delight in your observations.
One of the immense joys of visiting a metropolitan area has been the variety, quality and accessibility to epicurean delights. At a point when the energy and flow of publishing this issue felt blocked I sought solace in sushi; melting with each bite, like reading a steamy romance novel, I remembered how much the act of eating is truly a spiritual and sensual experience. I happened to stumble upon the local paper during this heavenly sushi experience, and while reading mouth-watering recipes was prompted to present the joy of cooking as food for the soul. Thus, the "Hungry for Rosh Hashanah" recipes in this issue. In perusing Deepak Chopra's site I also found his recipe of the week link: http://www.chopra.com/recipeofweek.htm. I needed something new and different for this issue and the Universe provided the answer. What an obvious addition, since food nourishes the body and soul! Third part of the answer: be aware of the Universe presenting you what you need...when you need it!
The culmination of the secret to peacefulness came to me during my flight home in a 37 passenger Q200 Dash 8. My soul soared as we floated by mountaintops peaking through a thick blanket of clouds and I imagined being on top of the world, close to heaven. I was happy and grateful for this lofty view and concluded that it was no wonder I felt peaceful and content at home in this presence of Creation. Anyone could feel peaceful in this place! Then, like a speeding motor-boat pounding on standing waves, I observed anxiety and fear in the faces and bodies of nearby passengers as we bounced on thermals and gusts. For me, this was normal for this flight although I acknowledged slight anxiety in my own stomach, quickly followed by peace. My calm was partly because of my ability to trust in the Universe but, also because I had plenty of practice riding these potholes in the sky. Fourth part of the answer: Peace is a place within.
Although I have concluded that peace does truly come from within, I also do believe in the necessity to 1) commune with nature, whether it's a grassy park in the city or a weekend getaway to the ocean and 2) commune with people - even just saying hello, smiling or taking the time to truly get to know someone, with a genuine interest in who they are and expressing a compassion for their well-being.
My metropolitan experience clearly revealed an admittedly negative and less than glowing judgment of suburbia and big city life. "Nice place to visit but, I'd never live there". But, I learned that although finding peace may be more challenging where there is an apparent scarcity of nature getaways, a high level of noise pollution and the norm in the workplace and at home includes operating at an accelerated pace, it is a challenge to be in touch with our souls EVERYWHERE. The challenge to remain grounded and peaceful in the midst of hustle and bustle was an enjoyable journey as I was forced to become even more aware of my surroundings and delighted in discovering glimpses of the natural world in places I had never noticed before. It was like a treasure hunt for evidences of the natural world, which from a distance looked bleak and unpromising, but, as the search deepened jewels were found in unexpected nooks and crannies. It's not that these jewels don't exist. I just had to look harder. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. And, faith is believing in things unseen.
Through working with the writers for this issue, the ability to nourish my soul was also facilitated by meeting Glenn Williams who teaches us what IS possible and what we CAN do! Glenn accepted and continues to accept the gift his legs give him through climbing mountains year after year, despite his medical condition. He has chosen to delight in volcanoes and observe their power and beauty up close and personal as well as through his camera. Glenn could have looked at his spina bifida diagnosis as life handing him lemons but, instead he's making a luscious, lemon torte!
And, Al Harris continued to broaden the scope of SpirituallyFit by submitting his story about Doodle, his cat, who teaches him about love. There are so many ways to practice spiritual fitness. Animals are a wonderful way to experience unconditional love and to learn compassion. I am so glad Al submitted his story to remind us to appreciate animals and the joy they bring to our lives.
In my everyday travels, I appreciate the wisdom gained through paying attention to the Universe constantly teaching me lessons about life and love. The answers seem simple: observe, delight, accept gifts, and know that beyond the bumps is an ocean of calm.
The publication of this webzine truly has been an act of faith that stories and authors will present themselves and the technical work will enable us to bring these wonderful stories to you. Because of this webzine I constantly keep my eyes and ears open for potential stories. As a result, I see spiritual stories in almost everyone I meet or everything I read. Publishing this webzine serves as a powerful exercise in spiritual fitness and we hope to share this experience with volunteers wishing to show their support through their talents and time.
We hope you continue to find inspiration in the stories you read and are encouraged to write and share your own spiritual experiences! This is our last issue for the year 2000. Look for us again in January 2001!
Chief Editor, SpirituallyFit.com
Volume 1, Issue 4