December 27, 2021

We Can’t Buy Zen, No Matter how much we Spend.

As I sit in companionate silence with my fur-baby nestled in beside me on the couch, I find myself absorbing the peacefulness of the moment.

The day is gray and the temperature chill. Mother Nature has reminded us that she has turned the page and winter is with us.

I look out my window across the snow-covered roofs and hill that climbs up from the ground, appreciating the pure beauty.

I listen to the sounds of the morning.

The plows have left the area, a car or two now passes by at random times. Some occasional footsteps crunching through the frozen and slushy snow captures my dog’s attention. The gentle whir of my lamp timer, soothing in some oddly unusual way.

And I sit, in solitude, silent and still, free and unencumbered.

My mind is in neutral, not pushing forward at a warped speed or reversing to drum up thoughts from yesterday or longer past—nor has it stopped, because here I am with an outpouring of feelings. My heart is beating, nothing more, nothing less, yet it is full. My soul is at peace—tranquil, still, and soothed. My body is at ease and relaxed, no tension. My senses are alive, liberated, and acutely aware of my surroundings.

Despite the demands that await me—holiday cards, gift wrapping, and preparing for the work as well as holiday week ahead—a sense of calm washes over me.

No exuberant sense of joy or heightened excitement. No feelings of sadness, pain, or anger. No highs, no lows. Simply a state of being, in a moment, and savoring the wonder of this unanticipated escape from daily life.

No music playing to create a mood. No podcast to educate me on my interest of the moment. No news on the radio or television.

Just me and my canine friend, basking in these moments that had no intended beginning and no finite end.

In reality, I can’t buy this. I can’t learn it, teach it, or force it.

Yet so many of us drive ourselves crazy chasing it, throwing money at coaches, workshops, and more. We want to buy this freeing, believing we can make it happen, when rather, it sometimes happens to us—and we may miss it by trying so hard.

We take yoga classes, meditate, and throw ourselves into a Zen lifestyle. We pray, go on retreats, and will ourselves to be at peace.

I can’t make today a better day despite my best efforts. I can try. I can schedule, plan, and orchestrate—pray and hope.

But life will be what it will be.

Moods shift. Feelings are fickle. Thoughts can be scattered.

Emotions ebb and flow like the tide. Plans change. People dampen spirits.

Accidents happen. Responsibilities accumulate. Pressure builds.

I’m not saying that you should stop trying. I’m not saying that you should give up and let life have its way with you. But I am inviting you to examine the control you try to have over everything.

Sometimes the biggest fight we have and obstacles we face are within ourselves.

We can’t force things to go our way. We can’t require ourselves to be who we are not. We can’t buy it or will it to be. 

But how beautiful it is to trust that peace can find us at the most unexpected times.

Maybe when alone, or maybe in a crowd filled with strangers. All you have to do is pay attention, recognize it when it visits, and let it guide you.



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