The Tao Te Ching is rich with wisdom on many topics, including peace. For instance, there is a verse in the ancient Chinese classic that offers advice for peace seekers. Loosely translated it goes something like this: Walk away from the spectacle.
This can be interpreted to mean walk away from the drama—choose peace.
It’s profound advice and one of the many reasons I love the jewels of wisdom buried within the Tao’s pages. But finding pearls is very different from actually wearing them, or so it is in my experience.
In other words, it’s not always so easy to walk the talk.
Relationships at work, at home, with family, friends, are fertile soil for conflict. How often do we get sucked into a vortex of drama in our daily lives? How often do we choose to “say our piece,” how often do we righteously cling to our version of truth, be it political or faith-based–no matter what the cost?
It takes great discipline to disengage or walk away from spectacles. Sometimes spectacles come up unexpectedly, like a summer storm they rain down particles of anger and other emotional debris. It can happen in conversations without warning and in every day human interactions because, well, we’re human.
But, we can chose peace. We can choose to set grace in motion and walk away from spectacles.
It’s not always easy. I work hard not to be baited into political discussions that I know will end up south of nowhere. So I typically walk away from the spectacle to guard my peacefulness.
In personal relationships, it is even harder. The truth is, sometimes our wounds get triggered. But sometimes, the spectacle or drama that is inches away from vaporizing a relationship can be avoided, if we consciously choose peace.
Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t.
I recently walked away from a spectacle. And I mean this figuratively and literally. It had all of the makings of a Class A Spectacle triggering issues of family wounding, pride and pain. The brittle branches of a painful part of my family history were being rubbed together and sparks of anger and disappointment were creating a combustible mix.
Without sharing the particulars, at a recent gathering I heard people I care about discussing a situation that had caused them hurt. They felt wronged by a careless and seemingly cruel comment that had been made by another person not present at the gathering. Someone in the group told me I should also be angry at the person, baiting me into the circle of hurt.
And as they continued to share their anger, I took a step back. Literally. I acknowledged the group pain (including my own because I certainly felt it) and then said, “I’m going to choose peace.”
In that moment when old wounds momentarily came unstitched, I chose grace as an ointment.
I didn’t pull out a match or add gasoline to a fire, I chose peace. I didn’t fan the flames, I didn’t heighten the drama, I stepped away from the spectacle.
And on this day, feeling equal part hurt and proud, I was in sync with myself. On this day, at least, I was congruent with my values. And if felt really good.
These moments, these tests of grace, await us on a daily basis. And we always, always get to choose: peace or spectacle.
Peace or spectacle? This is my latest mantra for dealing with difficult situations or frustrations. Just asking the question slows me down long enough to consider the choice.
Affirmation: In times of frustration, I choose peacefulness over righteousness. I choose to walk away from the spectacle.
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes. Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.