What are some ways that you personally find inner peace? And what kind(s) of beauty are you most drawn to in the world?
The honest answer is that I often fail to find inner peace. My inner life, as philosophers would put it, is chaotic. Getting my thoughts to stop racing isn’t easy and is only amplified by anxiety and occasional bouts with depression. When I do manage to find inner peace, it’s through meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing techniques; working out also helps alleviate my crowded mind.
As for beauty in the world, I’m most drawn to nature and sad music. I really like the A# major scale and its corresponding chords in any song. “Breathe Me” by Sia and “Hometown Glory” by Adele are two examples of songs in that scale. The occasional hike or drive up a mountain is therapeutic. I recently went to Mount Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona. It was an amazing experience. It’s always nice seeing different species of birds from the ones that are common here in New York City. I’m always keeping my eye out for birds I haven’t seen before. In that same vein, I watch nature shows like “Our Planet” on Netflix. That show, in particular, is shot with top of the line cameras, so I can get immersed and feel like I’m at the locations featured on the show. I’m also big on the cosmos, so any photos of nebulae and galaxies are awe inspiring.
That said, the unfortunate thing is that I don’t allow the beauty in the universe distract me from the ugliness there is; sometimes it feels as though the ugly vastly outweighs the beautiful. With a political circus here in the US, the Amazon burning, homeless people getting beat to death with metal rods, children dying for various reasons, victims of rape committing suicide, ongoing human sex trafficking, and all the other Earth-bound issues we face, it’s hard to focus for too long on what’s beautiful. And that’s ignoring all the death and destruction we are oblivious to in the universe at large; the universe, as we well know, can be hostile: a gamma ray burst close enough to Earth will dissipate our atmosphere and we would all suffocate to death.
The weight of my own mortality, the recognition that them who are closest to me will die (I have already effectively lost both my parents), and the recognition that a lot of so-called evil exists in the world have always shaped my personality; anyone who has gotten close enough to me knows that I can be quite macabre. I spend most of day pretending that this is all a comedy, but deep down I know that all life is a tragedy. Unlike my Christian counterparts, I don’t hold on to the false hope of an eternity in a place of no tears and suffering; there’s no happy ending to be had. Happiness, like much of everything else, comes and goes; it’s fleeting and we should enjoy it whenever we have the privilege of briefly apprehending it. I guess I’m always at peace though I’m always at war; I find order in my personal chaos. I am, after all, the universe made conscious, just like you and anyone reading this. I think we cheat ourselves and don’t fully actualize as individuals when we allow ourselves to be overly positive, optimistic, and enraptured by beauty. We must embrace turmoil, war, and chaos as well, so that we can realize, it toto, what it means to be human.