"Not that your readers don't know this, but Peace isn't one thing. Not really a, "state of being" stuff. It's a collective. So many variables come into play over this process. You can arrive at peace like you land at the airport. It's just so much that goes into it."
Marco was a gang member in the town next to mine. He left the gang, broke is leg, was homeless for three years, then got a job. He now provides home health care for the elderly. When you see him, his neck and arms are covered in tattoos. But the kindness in his eyes can be seen from across the street.
I asked him to explain what Peace meant to him.
"That depends on when you asked me the question. And that breaks down, not just from the years in the gang, then being homeless, then having a job and being able to take care of my kids. Peace is different depending on what where I am, what is going on. Like stuff that happened five minutes ago!" He let out a huge laugh.
"You referenced Thich Nhat Hanh's "Being Peace?" Try "Breathing Peace" instead. I learned meditation in rehab, and for the first time I could sorta, kinda get out of my head? Know what I mean? I learned I could "go back" to that breathing, every second and a half if I had to."
"But you have to recognize that your head is always somewhere else. You bring it back, breathe, and focus on what's around you. Breathing in the ease, breathing in the compassion, again and again."
"I could so easily connect with my anger, depression, anxiety, name it. But I breathe in Peace. It's my life now. I can't go back to jail. I am committed to be a better father. Breathing Peace helps that. And the focus on my betterment gives my meditation purpose."
"You can't be at peace because you want to. It's too transient. For me, I have to. It's this or jail. It's this or no kids. This or no job. These are the "no other choice's" in my life."
"All these collective behaviors, all these situations, just life itself give me reasons to be peaceful. Conflict, misunderstanding, and rejection are my best teachers. I breathe, I breathe again, and I come back to Peace. It's the collective of all my actions."
"That's Peace. Having to. Doing it. Bringing it back. Over and over and over."
Marco shook his head and smiled. "It's the lifestyle, man. It's the lifestyle."