Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Season


Sitting in my classroom with fifteen minutes to go before my first students, I feel panic come on me. It is in the center of my chest and feels like a catch in my breathing. Taking deep breaths feels weird and uncomfortable. If I wasn't at work, I would lie down on the floor for a moment and close my eyes.

This is how things go sometimes. It isn't that I have so much to do or that something has happened, I just feel out of sorts and that has led to anxiety. My response? This writing. It won't cure anxiety, but it helps me live in it for a few moments, and that is half the battle.

I turn off the music, close my eyes, touch the keys softly. I let the speed of my thinking slow down to the speed of typing and I try to relax and breathe.

I read a blog post today about a guy going out for a couple runs. I wanted it to be interesting but it wasn't. He went into too much detail: "I did this, I did that, and I did this other thing." About three hundred words in, I quit reading because he hadn't taken me anywhere. So I had better start getting somewhere with this.

Peace is a foreign concept. We used to produce it locally, I'm sure, but it has been outsourced, shipped over seas. Or, to put it more accurately, we are exporting anxiety and the sense that frantic is the only way to be.

My mind this morning is filled with a hundred to-dos that won't get done and that, undone, won't matter. My body is anxious (that whole breathing thing) because my mind is trying to move too fast. What I need is peace.

Christmas is advertised as a season of peace, but in the ways we do things it is anything but peaceful. There is the frantic run to the stores, the "have tos" of wrapping, baking, cooking, and cleaning. There is work to attend to, the children and their obligations, and the extended needs of our extended families. It's tough to be peaceful when I'm easily distracted and there is so much to distract me.

I came to this entry looking to survive anxiety and now I have found some peace and a way to go forward with the day, the week, the season, and so on. Let me tell you:

Outside the window is a coating of snow under a blue sky. An evergreen blows in the breeze and so too do two red ribbons tied to a porch across the street. I have turned off the music, tuned out the voices in the hall, and my breathing has calmed to normal. I'm thinking about my wife right now, seeing her smile in my mind, and hearing her voice. No, I'm hearing her breathing as she lies next to me at night and we drift to sleep. Peace.

Throughout the week, as Christmas approaches, I want to think of peace and give peace to my loved ones and to myself. I can buck the frenzy of the season. I can enjoy my family, the things that we need and want to do. I can choose to be at peace.

As a beginning to that, I wish you a peaceful holiday season. I offer you this thought: consider what brings real peace into your life: the smile of your grandchild, the flavor of chocolate, a morning run in the cold, a hot cup of coffee, a kiss from your husband, a prayer before you sleep, the end of a good book, or simply a moment of stillness. Find that peace. And if you can manage it, share that peace with everyone around you.

Write on.

(Today is the 50th post to this blog. Sweet.)