Serenity

I love the group I run with.  I don’t know how we all came together, I guess it’s just one of those things the group of souls that we are blend really well together and are very happy together.

Yesterday on our run, we began reciting poetry to one another.  Tom spouted out an Emily Dickinson, Penny an E.E. Cummings, I a Henley.  We discussed the poems or just marveled at the simplicity yet power of words.  Tom then recited the Serenity prayer, which is in its own way a poem:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

As it turns out, this poem (prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr) has a second stanza which is often left out as it is quite powerful in its short form.  The second stanza goes as follows:

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

How beautiful.  Words to live by.  I know many people identify as “spiritual” shying away from the notion of God.  Well, you can exchange “Him” or “God” for universe or higher power or whatever you wish, in my opinion, they are all synonymous with the Divine.  What I understand from this prayer is, there are things in life we can’t change and we must accept, there is a great deal in life that we can change and we have the power to, we must be courageous enough to do so.  We must live each day to its entirety as it is a gift and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  The world is not perfect, in fact, just the opposite, there are so many negative forces out there and it is our duty to avoid them and protect ourselves from them.  The key to happiness is surrendering to this fact and pursuing happiness despite all that could bring us down.  The prayer promises an afterlife of eternal happiness, of which I do not feel qualified to speak but maybe that’s just it, maybe seeking happiness and goodness on earth is the key to eternal happiness?

The other things I appreciate about poetry (or maybe it’s awareness of life in general) is how timely they usually are.  Those are the exact words I needed to hear at that time.  It was so beautiful, so meaningful, and so timely.  I reflected on the things in my life that I stress out about, what of those can I not change?  Let them go.  What can I change?  Ok, work on my courage to change the things I can in order to seek peace and happiness.  And knowing the difference, well, the very thought of reflecting on it or seeking counsel from those who know is the answer there, I’d say.

Today, I sat down at my desk to get some studying done.  As is standard procedure for me, I opened my agenda and looked at my calendar…what does the week ahead look like?  The agenda I have, The Passion Planner, has inspirational quotes and phrases on every week.  This week’s reads:

“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” -Buddha

Another timely phrase for my life and what I’m going through.  There are people in this life whose motives we simply do not understand as they are so different from our own.  Don’t seek to understand them…you never will.  But what many people often fall victim to, is hateful thoughts and resentful feelings towards those whom they do not understand.  Let that go.

In 2008, The Dark Night came out (Batman), I was obsessed with that movie.  I loved Christian Bale’s role in the movie, the intensity of his character, and just the whole plot.  One line that has always stuck with me was something that Alfred Pennycook (Bruce Wayne’s butler) said to him regarding his nemesis (the Joker) which is, “some men just like to watch the world burn.”  That is, evil is inexplicable and evil for evil’s sake.  Some people are miserable and unhappy for no reason and want you to suffer with them.

I don’t have an explanation for that but what I can say is to surround yourself by beauty and happiness and things that make your heart sing.  Don’t try to understand unhappiness and evil and in fact, if you can avoid it, do!

Here’s to happiness, to peace of mind, to love, to poetry, and long runs.

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