I find myself seeking peace a lot lately.
I like to ask social media for advice. When confused about what to do, some folks pray, they kneel or bow, running the wooden beads of their rosary or mala through their fingers — but I prefer Instagram.
I will ask Instagram anything. What should I eat? Which way should I wear this dress? Should I choose shoes based on style or practicality? Is the “messy bun” out? Is crimped back in?
Earlier this week I asked Instagram about politics. Not personal politics per se — more about how to balance the drive for activism with the need for peace.
I find myself seeking peace a lot lately.
I was driving to visit my children today; it’s my eldest daughter’s 23rd birthday. Two months ago my husband (her step-father) and I and our two younger children moved about three and a half hours away to the mountains outside of Santa Cruz. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been away from my three older kids. It’s been a tough transition not to have them under my roof or more than a few minutes away. I’m spending a lot of time questioning whether or not I did a good job raising them. I wonder if they miss me as I miss them. I ask myself a lot what is “normal” when it comes to the way a mother feels about her adult children.
So I was driving today on our curvy mountain road, and a man in a black late-model Corvette pulled up behind me. The roads on our mountain aren’t just curvy by your typical road standards; they are curvy even by mountain road standards. Because of these severe curves, and the unbroken yellow lines dividing them, slower drivers are expected to pull over into the nearest dirt or gravel paved turnout or passing lane.
Now that we’ve had this mountain home almost a year, I’ve become very skilled at navigating these roads — I rarely have to pull over to allow quicker cars to pass. But now and then there is a Corvette — or a Ferrari, or a row of men in head-to-toe leather on racing motorcycles, or a young Asian guy in a slammed down, souped-up Acura — like the one today. He seemed to materialize on my bumper, urging me with his proximity to move over quickly.
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There wasn’t an immediate turnout, and I found myself becoming increasingly anxious. My palms began to sweat; my armpits started to get itchy (a weird thing that happens to me). I began to fear that, even as I was going the speed limit, he’d swerve around me, crossing the double yellow line and, in a worst case scenario, cause an accident, but at the very least cause me to piss my pants.
This is exactly what happened. He passed.
Thankfully there were no oncoming cars for him to careen into. Also, fortunately, my bladder was empty enough that I didn’t wet myself. I imagine the man just wanted to drive his fast sports car faster than my Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon could take the curves. That seems to be what middle-aged men around here like to do — buy a fast car or a sports bike and drive recklessly like they either don’t want to live or like they don’t have anything to live for but speed. It was pretty apparent he wasn’t in any hurry to get to the hospital or something. He was alone and appeared to be in fine health — though, I’ll admit, it was hard to tell at 60 MPH through heavily tinted glass.
Anyway, with peace on my mind, I wondered what peace this sort of racing-around-a-mountain-endangering-folks-lives type of activity might be bringing this gentleman. Maybe this guy is so hopeless he’d rather die and take us all with him than to endure another day of this life. Or maybe he just drives that way all the time. I’m a person that spends a lot of time thinking about the human condition, a condition that seems to be in peril at an exponential rate lately.
Last week I went to Instagram with my woes about living in this current climate. I asked people what they are feeling right now, what it feels like to exist in this world — the overwhelming response was “overwhelmed.”
I get this, because that is what I am, too. Whatever you want to name it, something is going on in the world. It’s fatigue. Maybe it’s political; so much of so much seems hopeless, and in the face of that, so many of us feel helpless. Maybe it’s media; the bad news bombardment, the state of the state, the feeling that the good seems so often to be gone. Maybe it’s social; we’re all just too tired to interact, too tired to pretend to be positive when it all seems so dreadful.
Maybe it’s all of that and some other stuff I haven’t considered.
One thing it is for sure is exhausting.
But if there is one thing I have a lot of experience with, it’s exhaustion. If there’s another thing I have a lot of experience with, it’s confusion.
And while this is all as overwhelming to me as it is to everyone who took a few seconds to answer my Instagram poll, another thing I have is a place where I can write about it.
(That place is here.)
Join me next week —and every week — as I try to figure this out (with your help, I hope).