Becoming 31

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Tomorrow, I am thirty-one, the shift into thirty-something subtle but very present.

I keep forgetting it’s my birthday week. My former favorite-day-of-the-year overshadowed by kindergarten graduation and four days of intensive solo parenting.

The past year has shown up for me, generously teaching what I need more of, and it is neither ambitious nor lightweight.

It is inner-peace.

Sure, I often feel at peace in my comfortable middle-class lifestyle in my safe first-world country. It’s easy to feel peaceful when I’m in the gym, exercising to enthralling podcasts and beautiful music. But I must carry that peace with me, after I’ve left the steam room, and I am crossing a busy street with two children who are hungry and uncooperative. I may feel peaceful when the stars align and I get to sleep in until 7, but can I find peace at 5:30 am with a toddler climbing all over me?

True peace is not the absence of conflict, but strength in the face of overwhelm. It’s easy to sit in, and write about, and meditate on inner-peace, but how do we find peace when stress comes?

Likewise, it’s easier to set goals than to find peace with where we are right now. And that’s the answer, the paradoxical truth: in order for peace, we must have acceptance and love of what is, compassion for our humanness, for the meandering path we forge, the detours that seduce and distract and unnerve us.

Which is great, because it means I don’t have to wait until I’m officially done with losing my patience and saying things I don’t mean. I can fail as many times as I need to, and somehow, I can still find peace in that.

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