Some time ago, I started another daily affirmation (I have several each morning)–this one dedicated to being an instrument of peace. It harks back to *St. Francis’ poem, which I have always loved.
I have always been quick to get angry over real or imagined slights and hurts, and getting older hasn’t changed that bad habit much. So one of my goals each day is to do my best to be an instrument of peace. For me, that means letting go of things that, in the short and long run, simply do not matter. I have said before that I am a natural “right-fighter;” when I believe I’m right, my instinct is to hammer down all opposition to prove my point.
I finally realized that the only point I made was to make a ginormous horse’s patootie out of myself. Beating down others to prove my ‘rightness’ only gave me momentary triumph, quickly followed by shame and remorse. Kind of like what happens when you decide to hork down two pieces of cheesecake–then suffer for the next 48 hours.
So what exactly does it mean to actually be an instrument of peace? I can only tell you from my own experience. I have a part-time job with a long commute; 145 miles round-trip, which is about an hour and 20 minutes each way. I cover three major highways on my commute, and have seen a lot of dumb and dangerous driving. Like most people, when I get scared, I get angry. Angry because someone risked my life by doing something stupid. But really, that’s just life in general. For whatever reason, we humans do stupid things, and that’s just a fact of life.
So these days instead of screaming and swearing in the car, flipping the offender the bird and so on, I allow myself one good long string of swears. Then I take a deep breath and say, “Ok–we’re done here.” It’s amazing what power that little phrase has! All the anger and fear drains away, and I say out loud to the offender, “It’s ok–we are both ok.” And I wish him/her well, and do my best to LET. IT. GO.
I’ll be the first to say that I get plenty mad about these things, but have to admit I feel a whole lot better once I let things go. I no longer flip anyone the bird either, by the way. And do you know why? Years ago, when I worked for a major high-tech company, I was on my way to a meeting in Nashua, NH. One of the company’s most important and influential high muckety-mucks was going to be running the meeting, and I was kind of thrilled I had been invited. On my way down the highway, I was nearly to the exit I needed, when someone crossed two lanes of traffic and cut me off AS I WAS GETTING ON THE EXIT RAMP.
I had to literally stand on my brakes to avoid a collision, and the man in the car ahead looked straight at me in his rear view mirror and our eyes met. I flipped my middle finger at him and shook it, all the while mouthing every dirty word I knew. By the time I parked my car, I was still shaking with rage. But I pulled myself together, and walked into the building and into the conference room. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down near the front. The speaker, the influential high muckety-muck walked to the podium, and looked at me and smiled. It was the guy who had cut me off and to whom I had presented my middle finger! That little experience cured me forever of flipping anyone off ever again. (By the way, he never said a word about it to me, and we never made eye contact again during the meeting!)
So I am doing my best these days not to commit acts of personal terrorism on others for the things they do. I am pretty sure that there are lots of things I do that make others upset with me. I am hoping that, in focusing on being an instrument of peace, that I can finally tame my baser and less lovely instincts to actually be a better person, a more forgiving person, a more understanding person. I have a long way to go, but I’ m working on it.
As this is the last day of 2014, I wish us all a wonderful, prosperous, safe, healthy and happy 2015. May we all realize our own great potential, all those things that are unique and beautiful about us, and forgive ourselves and others and learn to truly let go of anger and pain.
Be peaceful and be happy.
- *”Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
- Where there is injury, pardon;
- Where there is discord, harmony;
- Where there is error, truth;
- Where there is doubt, faith;
- Where there is despair, hope;
- Where there is darkness, light;
- And where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
- To be consoled as to console;
- To be understood as to understand;
- To be loved as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive;
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
- And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”