Letting some of it trickle out while trying to soak it all in

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Seeing peace

Though I am grateful for so many things in my life, one virtuous emotion I have felt little of lately is peacefulness. Even when things are quiet, I hear an internal hum of restless activity. This chronic sensation of speed, pressure, and productivity is heavy and sticky.

I say yes easily and probably move too much. Sometimes I feel my life depends on making a deadline or taking on another project. This is fantasy and bad fantasy at that. Life would go on if I slept through the day. Life would go on if my computer wouldn't boot.

Though I carry this world of worry and reminders wherever I go, I am surrounded by peacefulness. The dust on the moulding and the bare wires that silently feed the bulb on the wall do not move or hurry. The creak of the hinge on Caspian's door and the guy lines on the dead spider's web out the window do not know how many tasks are stacked for tomorrow. The problem is not a lack of peacefulness, it's my inattention to seeing peace.

A February a few years ago in Fairbanks on my bike, I saw a woman standing beside her car on the shoulder of Chena Ridge. It was 9 am and the sun had just begun to glow in the southeast. She had stopped her rush and was standing in the dry cold Boreal morning, taking pictures of sunrise. When I got to my office, I told my friend Allison about the pictures, and asked if she thought having a camera all the time in our pockets makes us notice more of less of the beauty around us. She said it helped her notice more and that she now looked for truth in her dog, child, or ski boot that she hadn't thought to before.

Clearly, our devices can take us away from peace, but they can sometimes help us see it. I do see peace in some of the pictures and videos I've taken. Sometimes it's peace I intentionally tried to net with my megapixels. Other times, it's peace that crept in without consent. Here are a few (feel free to add your own).


  1. Those are wonderful, peaceful, beautiful, meaningful photos. As you can imagine, besides the photos of my beautiful grandchildren, I also love the barbed wire. Your photo of the pronghorn antelope Caught in a fence will be in the conclusion to our book coming out in October.

  2. I recently spent a week visiting friends from grad school who all live in KY, TN, and AR, and who've added children to their families since we were students together. Seeing my friends spend time with their families encouraged me to consider what I devote my time to, so upon my return home, I dropped a couple of good things that I'd said yes to in the past. I know this now about myself: the way I managed to find a peaceful place as a single Mormon woman in her thirties living in Utah was to fill my time with good things, leaving no room to fret about not being married. The pattern has continued as I try find a peaceful place as a married Mormon woman living in Utah who has no children yet.

  3. I'm vain and I love all my commenters, but to have both Scott and Nelda respond makes this post a success even if no one else reads it. Love you both.

  4. just looked at these photos again, in the context you put them in, and am grateful for their peaceful beauty / beautiful peace