is a question that I have typed, in various forms, into my internet search bar. I would love to say that my deep-night searches have elicited some universal formula, a seven-step plan perhaps, to eternal bliss, but as ever, nothing in life can ever be that simple. What I have discovered, however, is that after thousands of years of philosophical musing, the twenty-first century iteration of peace appears to be the preserve of blonde women who practice yoga on sunset stung beaches. On a personal level, my deep-seated aversion to sand, the open sea and exertion prevents me from attaining this particular brand of nirvana.
The platitudes repeated on pages spattered with cursive fonts and pictures of mountain sunrises have also failed to placate my gently throbbing brain. The affirmations I was advised to repeat unfortunately will do little to halt the onslaught of the definite future that I fear. Though, perhaps, the inefficacy of these bright slogans parading ‘inner strength’ and ‘positive energy’ could be down to the fact that I feel deeply and disingenuously American repeating them. That is not to say that I am a pessimist, but I am endowed (unfortunately) with slightly caustic and cynical tendencies.
In fleeting moments, I do however find myself bearing a striking resemblance to the preachers of positivity I have stumbled across during my fervent combings of the blogosphere. In a car, driving past a grove of olive trees, I remember being briefly struck by the silver imprint of their leaves against the blue sky. It seemed as if the tree was throwing its hands to the day in a gesture of open celebration. I think I almost cried at the simple and unexpected beauty of those few unfurling seconds.
On another occasion, after shaking off the heaviness a week had unloaded upon my shoulders, it was a walk under a dusky sunset that suddenly told me that I had returned to myself. Beneath a sky ringed with terracotta tiles, I could feel my body moving through the gathering evening light — each footstep falling on broken paving tiles felt like a sudden revelation. Alone, I walked in air that smelt like plane trees and distant barbecues, and it was as if I was emerging from a plunge pool into gently burning daylight. The delicious banality of finding those velvet textures hidden in the folds of the day made me so light — so wonderfully happy that I could begin to forgive their brevity.
More recently, when I have been scared of the company of other people, scared of showing my splintering breakages, it is the discovery of small worlds of words that stills the introspection that threatens to silence me. As sickeningly clichéd as may be, diving into poetry removes me from the aching commitment to be present, to experience the weight of each passing second. The lines I swim through quieten the loudness of my surroundings, and do much to placate some of the worries that have worked themselves into piles of paper at my desk. Sometimes, they even explode the barbed questions that loom on my tongue, compelling me to imagine alternative and disastrous futures.
(Once again, the pretension of my coping strategies is not lost on me).
When the fog behind my eyes becomes occasionally storm-like, it is still difficult not to lose myself in episodes of interiority in which I shutter the walls around me. In these times, the solitude that I love and have named for myself warps into a lonely beast that disturbs the equilibrium of my placidity. I have not yet found the serenity that will protect me from the onslaught of these small episodes, but brief interludes of light bring me some small comfort. In the mean-time, in the absence of an overarching philosophy or formula for peace, I will repeat platitudes to myself under morning moons in-between contorting myself into pitiful imitations of yoga poses.