Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World Peace by Puppies and Potatoes

My gripe about BBC World News (1 PM on NPR) is that its coverage on the Arab Spring is quite extensive – sometimes a little bit too much. For a person who shuns television, my connection to world events and news is 80% NPR, 10% TIME, and 10% the occasional online news (including Weekend Update with Seth Meyers - seriously!). I love journalism in its many forms and I have a fondness for NPR/BBC/APM journalists. News is not known to be a popular source of happy emotions, however. It is very telling of human behavior that only what bleeds leads.

I have been contemplating lately what an extremely despicable, dreadful thing war is. It’s heart-wrenching to hear about the thousands and thousands of voices suppressed, of lives lost… all faceless and nameless to me, yet somewhere, their lives are being mourned by those who loved them and meant the world to them. I cannot bear to imagine what it would be like to lose a child, a brother, a best friend to atrocities caused by war. Is it really necessary to kill and annihilate?

The question then becomes – what do you do?

I say go for an afternoon run with a smile in your heart, stopping to appreciate the beauty around you. If you pass by a litter of four seven week old puppies that are just the softest, sweetest things, stop to purr and scratch ears. Let them chew on your shoelaces.

I’m being serious.

The Dalai Lama is an advocate and ambassador of peace the world over. If you ask him what he would do, his answer probably won’t be very far from mine. The only way we can spread peace (and love and joy and cartwheels) is if we cultivate it within first. If we know it so intimately and touch it and dwell in it, the rest just takes care of itself. (Maybe?)

That “space” is elusive, but it is THERE. It exists, if you quiet yourself enough to allow it. I will not claim to live “there”, but I know for a fact and without any trace of doubt that the more you allow the equanimity and compassion into your own internal life, the more apparent this truth becomes. Every opportunity for “it” exists in our daily lives. You don’t need to retreat to the mountains for weeks of solitude to find it (but maybe it helps). It is in folding kitchen towels (just ask Sylvia Boorstein). It is in the bath when you indulge yourself in a little more “me” time. It is in front of you, on your dinner plate. It is in presence (or the attempt at it) in all you do. Take five minutes to yourself each day to just empty yourself and feel things. See what happens.

I have had the luxury of nights alone this week. I am cooking more healthy vegetarian meals and getting my summer routine going again. Last night, after running my usual two miles (and cuddling the puppies when I ran into them), I sat at the dinner table and took a bite of my dinner. And there “it” was. In the potatoes. I bit into it and I just tasted so intensely all the love everyone (including me!) put into growing, transporting, selling, cutting, cooking the potato. It was sweet and full of the good stuff I cannot even put words to. I’m telling you. It was ridiculous.

And so begins my personal crusade - World Peace by puppies and potatoes.


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