A kind of dreamy peaceful Sunday
I really love the weather of the equinox. The equinox is coming on September 22nd, and we're only a few days away. What I love about this weather is that it's not too hold, not too cold. It's right in the middle. To put that in perspective, in Utah, I have seen a low of 5 F and a high of 105 F in the same year. 59 degrees with a warm breeze and sunshine is just about right for me.
That was last Sunday. Last Sunday, the sky was blue thanks to the wind blowing the smoke out of the valley, and there were puffy clouds all over the sky. It looked like a perfect day for a walk.
As I was sitting here, writing my morning page on Sunday, my elder daughter Emily, woke early to find me and came to me for a walk. My wife and my other daughter Natalie were still asleep, so why not? I helped Emily change clothes and on a walk we went.
To add to the beautiful blue skies and the puffy clouds, there was a nice warm breeze blowing just before the sun crested the mountains. Yes, we were out that early, not before sunrise, but just as the shadow cast by the sun started to travel down the mountains on the west. It was cool, so the sunlight on our backs warmed us up nicely.
I had a nice long walk with Emily, and we had a nice conversation along the way. She is 5 years old and I wanted to show her the magic of a morning walk together. We noticed the flowers the trees and the desert life beyond our little subdivision. We noticed the pretty houses, and how the light from a low morning sun made the shadows long and shone through the blades of grass. We met a curious cat, too.
When we returned home, my younger daughter Natalie greeted me, crying. She was upset that she wasn't up early enough to join us for a walk and wanted to go for a walk, too. I suggested that I could just take her and leave Emily at home, but Emily wanted to go, too. So the three of us went, and we took the same path as before because Emily wanted Natalie to see the same things we saw.
By then, the sprinklers were running and they altered our path some, but not enough to disrupt our walk. We saw many of the same things again, but the sun was higher and it was hotter than before. They walked, they ran, they stopped by the park to play for awhile under the puffy clouds and blue sky. As I sat in the park, I flashed on Emily at 2 years old in the park and how she was so adventurous, as she is now. I remember the wonder she had at the park and the slides and the ladders.
I had a very special moment watching my kids playing in the park on Sunday morning, not a care at all for time, a schedule, or any concern. I felt the breeze, sitting in the small shadow of a tree for shade from the sun as I watched them play. One thing that was different for this visit is that Emily didn't express any longing to play with other kids there. She and her sister played together and that was enough.
Once someone says, "I gotta go potty", that's the time to go home. So we made our way home and they completed their urgent errand. Then my wife Alice made something for the girls to eat. The idea was that while they were eating, Alice and I could play ping pong downstairs and we did.
All that movement was just what I needed since I sit at a desk all day for my day job and I also spend time in the morning writing articles like this. Two long walks, and ping pong, too. The walks had me all warmed up for ping pong, but for the first time, Alice and I played until I was tired, not the other way around.
I just love to play ping pong. I'm a big fan of gravity, so I love the curve of the ball, the way it feels when I hit the ball, the way the ball arcs with spin and the challenge of keeping it on the table. Alice doesn't like to play for points, so I made keeping the ball on the table the focus of my play. I was just going to get the ball back on the table every time instead of trying to force errors like in a game.
I think we played for something like an hour and I was done. I had the sweat, the blood flowing freely through my veins, and the joy that comes from the endorphins that arise from the stress of exercise. I was set.
So I took a shower and reconvened with the kids. Emily wanted to play chess but was still learning the basics. So we watched some videos on chess. She was engrossed, captivated and was finally getting some chess instruction that I could not give her, at least not as well as those videos. "ChessKids"? I found their website, set up an account for me and her, and let her have at it.
By the end of all that, she and I played on a real board. She set up a proper chess board without any of my coaching. Then we played and I led her on to see how to put my king in checkmate on a real board. My plan now is to let her train at Chesskids.com, and then play with her to show her how to checkmate until she says, "Don't let me win, I can do this". I also found that there is a chess club at her school, so getting her into that club will let her play with other kids of her skill level.
While Emily was playing chess with the computer with Natalie looking on, I took a nap. Soon enough, it was dinner time (we like early dinners), and things started to settle down. I got them ready for bed, read a few books, and told them funny stories in the dark until they went to sleep.
Throughout the day, there was very little conflict. There was some sibling rivalry to be sure, but that was all easily resolved or resolved itself. There was also a point where Natalie was swinging clothing around the chess board while Emily and I were playing. I could see that she felt left out.
As she swung the clothing she hit the chess board and wiped out a fair bit of the game. On impulse, I scolded her and she went to Alice for comfort. I finished my game with Emily and went to find Natalie, still hiding behind Mommy. So I sat on my bed and waited.
Natalie soon appeared, with arms out wide for a hug. I explained to her that my response to her swinging the clothes was more about me than her. I explained to her that I only did what I learned from my Mommy and Daddy and said that I would do better next time.
When I talk to my kids, I talk to them like little adults. I water down my vocabulary some, but I know they're young and in the prime of language learning. So I use as many different words as I think I can with them to keep it interesting for all of us. I do that because it kind of blows my mind to see a 3 year old use the word, "perhaps" in a sentence and do it right.
I have had a lot of demands on my time lately, so this article has taken me a couple of days to write. But one thing that stands out me as I read it over again for editing, you know - the last pass, is that I'm living in relative peace.
You can't buy this kind of peace. There is no amount of money that can bring this kind of peace because living in peace is a conscious decision that we make every day. It's not always easy, it's not always comfortable, but I know what the alternative looks like because I've lived it.
I know what it's like to argue, to throw brickbrats, to live in worry, to be angry often for days and weeks. That stuff is so tiring. Even the drama on TV can be a bit tiresome, too. Sure it can be exciting, but at some point, we need to chill out and just be.
So every day, I err on the side of peace. It's not automatic. I have to make a conscious decision every minute of every day to live in peace. I think through what I want to say before I say it. Does what I want to say require other people to change? If so I have to reconsider it. Does what I want to say give other people power? If so, I reconsider again. Is what I want to say kind, thoughtful and helpful? If so, I say it and see what happens.
Thousands of decisions over many years with an intention for peace, even with errors, will eventually yield peace. This is not a dreamy, unicorny thing. This is just practicing the art of living in peace. And I really mean it when I say, "practicing". Every day, I practice living in peace to stay in peace. Every day I practice living in peace to reinforce the peace that I already enjoy. With every decision to err on the side of peace, the probability that peace will be sustained increases.
I sometimes wonder what would happen if 7 billion people decided to err on the side of peace, and I hope we get to find out.
Slogan by @tecnosgirl
Plan B for Humanity
A short but growing list of people I admire, who have helped me, and/or influenced me, my thinking and/or my posts: