Did you ever notice how life has a way of kicking you square in the pants? Things are going along smoothly and out of nowhere all sorts of bumps in the road appear. In an attempt to get through the rough times your heart seems to harden a little bit. It is as if every curveball in life takes away something from your soul. At least that is my experience.
The last few weeks have been very trying for me. I was not as gracious as I would have like to have been. I became very frustrated and quickly turned into a raging, foul-mouthed monster. In just a few weeks I forgot how to be human. I didn’t kick puppies or anything like that but my sight got clouded and bitterness lingered in my mouth. I was not as nice to people as I should have been and my words were peppered with anger. I thought I left that person behind but she appeared again. That makes me incredibly sad. I don’t like her but she must be a part of me.
Today I was standing next to the Nantahala River. A river, by the way, I love. If I take the time to revere this river I find peace from its beauty. I became mesmerized by the running water, the calming sounds, and the cool breeze that came off the cool water. Instantly my heart began to soften again. Just then I noticed a beautiful yellow butterfly, so delicate as it flew with the air currents. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at the natural wonders all around me. I started to remember that my sojourn was about finding a peace inside me. I had fallen into some old habits and I was instantly miserable again.
I began to realize that finding peace is only part of the equation. Keeping it is another. Finding peace can be fleeting, while keeping it takes a lot of work. My heart has been hard before and those are some of my darkest times. Times that made me strong but also times I was not a good person. It is those dark nights that make us who we are during the light of morning. I just have to remember that the dark nights do not last forever. They are temporary and I need to guard my heart from the ravages those times can inflict.
Never again do I want to miss a beautiful butterfly or ignore songs being sung by birds. I thought once I found peace it would stay with me but the truth is peace needs to be cultivated like a delicate flower; tended to on a regular basis.
I must not let life’s unexpected turns throw my heart and soul into hardened mode. A soft and loving heart is worth working for. It’s what makes us human and makes this a better place to live. Bitterness and anger are too easy to hold onto. It is far too easy to fall into negative habits. Self-pity is so much fun to wallow in, but nothing good ever comes from it. Peace, on the other hand, breeds beauty and love. Two things we need more in this world, if you ask me.