I approached this month’s peace post with some trepidation.
The challenge for April was to write about teaching children peace. As usual, we could write about an experience, share a creative piece and so on. But as I don’t have children and I don’t write literature or poetry for young readers, I thought it would be tricky to write anything relevant.
But then I had an epiphany: I’m already doing this!
Long-time readers will know that a few months ago I started a project recording childhood memories for autobiographical poetry. Nothing I have done so far has been directly related to peace – it’s been the opposite really; the vitality, exuberance and energy of youth.
But I used the same techniques to think about this month’s challenge – reviewing places, pictures, memories and notes – and it didn’t take long for experiences of quiet and stillness to come to the forefront of my mind. Although I may not have seen them in that way as a child, they encapsulate my understanding of what peace is. For example, shelling peas with my aunt; walking the dog; sitting in the cool dining room at my grandparent’s house. Watching my mum make mince pies on Christmas Eve.
I can’t guarantee that the reality was as peaceful as I think now, or if I’m just recalling a second or two of experience, but for the purposes of poetry it doesn’t matter. And for the purposes of peace I’m not sure it does either: these islands of stillness may have been in a vast ocean of activity, but the fact is that I still remember them.
If you ever try autobiographical poetry, you’ll notice that once you select a topic, the more you think about it, write notes about it, the more you’ll remember. Colours, heat, smells all become suddenly vivid. With these memories, I started building up a multi-sensory picture of peaceful moments.
And something crystallised in my thoughts – something that I thought was important for this post.
My peaceful memories were not about gadgets, tv shows, special equipment. They were not about spending lots of money or overseas holidays. They were about quality time; having a single focus; learning, or appreciating, where things came from; being somewhere comfortable and familiar.
That’s not to say those other things aren’t fun, or useful, or full of special memories too – but that the things I remember about peace are the things I actually did; not that I watched on a tv or heard on a radio.
So maybe the key to teaching anyone peace is to help them experience it.
Other posts you may enjoy: