"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." -- Buddha
I am not a fan of cemeteries. Well, I don't know anyone who is.
So it doesn't surprise me that I never really noticed that right near my work is a sprawling cemetery I drive by almost every day.
But the other day, as I stopped at the end of a road facing the cemetery, waiting to turn, I couldn't help but notice this large headstone staring at me.
Now that I was looking, the carved words were impossible to miss: "MAKEPEACE."
It made me feel a little sad to see that sentiment on a tombstone. It made me wonder the story behind those words. Was the person who passed away someone who hadn't made peace in their lifetime? Or was it that the person who had the tombstone made hadn't made peace with the loved one he lost? Or was it something else, something that a few brief words in a tombstone can't explain?
Later, after looking at the photo more closely, I realized that was the last name of the person--obviously. I was a little relieved, but still, it had me thinking of the importance of making peace.
I know in general we are pretty good at giving ourselves peace when it comes to the little things--five minutes alone, or a yoga class, or a cup of tea. But when it comes to the bigger things--the ones that rattle us deep--we often give up, throw our hopes to someone else, and sit and wait. We do this because when a situation feels overwhelming, we usually believe it means there's nothing we can do about it.
So often we hold onto things that no longer serve our higher good. Worse? Sometimes we push things aside, trying to bury them deep, only to have them resurface out of the blue, begging to be noticed until they have our full attention.
That's never easy.
Whether it's making peace with past decisions, past relationships or the past in general, it is so critical to find peace here and now.
I used to think peace was something out of my control. I believed it had to come from another person or another source. I often prayed for peace to come to me, swiftly, effortlessly and completely. And while that did help in some way, it wasn't always enough.
But in recent years, I've realized that the peace we seek must come from within.
When I think back on all the time I wasted waiting -- for an apology I never got, an explanation I never received, an opportunity I thought I deserved, or the love I gave to come back to me -- it overwhelms me.
And those are just the major ones. The list of little waits for peace -- phone calls, text messages, acknowledgements -- go on and on and on.
All in all, it adds up to so many hours of stress, so many days of anxiety, so many months of worry and sometimes years of angst.
Life got a lot easier the moment I realized that peace was within my reach; peace was within me. Life became so much brighter the moment I committed to making peace, not with or for someone else, but alone, for me.
As soon as I recognized that what I wanted most of all was peace and that I had control over that, I was able to stop waiting for someone else to grant me permission to have closure.
I gave myself the greatest gift the second I created the ending I had long dreamed of, wished and waited for.
I write this not to make it seem like it's simple or easy, because it's not. I write this because I want to save you more time. I want you to bring peace to your life sooner, rather than later or never.
If you are waiting for someone or something else, stop. Maybe somewhere down the road, when time has helped navigate rocky territory, that person or situation will come around the way you are hoping. I hope that for you, but in the meantime, it's unhealthy to wait. And you must consider the scenario that what you are waiting for may not ever come (which may end up being your biggest blessing of all.)
The only thing you can be sure of is you and your intentions. So if it's peace you want, what are you waiting for?
When it feels like everything is falling apart, or not coming together, try to focus on what control you do have--because you are capable of more than you think.
This piece was originally posted on universeletters.com