Tim Mousseau found serenity for a moment … and realized it’s not a state where he wants to thrive.
I was driving across east Texas, my rental car a somewhat unexpected free upgrade. It was nice to be in a vehicle where the engine kicked things in to gear at the twitch of your foot. I am not usually a car guy but I have to admit, going fast so quickly had an allure.
On this specific stretch of road, my windows were down, the night sky seeping in along with 76 degrees of warmth and one particularly bold cricket had somehow managed to jump perfectly in through the window. They sat in the back seat, chirping along merrily to the varied sounds of my music, alternating between bands that reflected my current mood and artist that played with a little more peace.
Peace. That was the curious thought I sought out, the emotional pulse I craved.
I had just left a particularly trying and emotionally stirring work engagement. I had just opened myself up raw on a stage in front of a few hundred people and my emotions were still bleeding out of the self-inflicted chest wound some would call vulnerability. Feelings and past traumas leaked from my mind, spewing out my ears, running down the colorful ink on my arms, writing a whole new story. Invisible, this emotional blood pouring from the release of recanting a tragic past ran throughout my body, tainting me.
Peace. The exact sensation I was hoping to find in this moment as the emotions coursed throughout my body. Vulnerability was my raft and baby, I was riding the rapids, plunging head first into inner turmoil.
To top off my mental jitters, right before my drive began, the night had intensified with some messages. A few blurbs on the screen. The dissolution of feelings from another, recognizing that romantic things were probably not going to work out. The understanding and final vocalization that I had been waiting for, that our time together was fading. It was short time and we burned through one another hot and quick. We meshed well but at a certain point our velcro did little to retain its stick.
As a storyteller drawing from my experiences, my professional work is never fully separate from my personal emotions and where I had been emotional strung on this presentation, this act of eventual rejection, although a healthy one of respect, had lingered. This trip had been a long voyage, a seemingly endless time away from home and putting my life on pause.
The cricket chirped. The music rose. The Texas air smelled of cow shit and the new life of spring wanting to come forth. My mind moved faster than the car, raged louder than the music, took more leaps than that fucking cricket, my insect hitchhiker.
Peace. Inner serenity and mental clarity. Seemingly lovely thoughts. A distant desire.
It took me most of the night to find that state I was seeking, to obtain fleeting grasps of that concept as my raft, the buoyed boat S.S. Vulnerability, hit patches of serene. Music helped. Conversations with friends as well. A shower that burned off my skin and seared the hole where my chest had opened even more.
Gradually, I found ways to reach inner peace, an elusive creature, a fish darting around the reef of grey matter that comprises my brain amongst its fold.
Yet the peace I managed to find only lasted for a while.
And as my mind moved quicker than the now parked rental, my mind always outpaces vehicles and light itself, I sat on a new thought. If this was peace, that personal feeling so many crave, something must have been missing.
I am not certain if I’ve ever identified the best way to find peace. The sure and true solution that allows one to walk away from a problem or a toil of the soul and mind. I am still seeking to understand some of the complexities of my own soul, to understand the manner through which my spine seemingly connects my heart to my brain but never certain where my spirit resides. Somewhere in between.
You name it and I’ve tried it. Religion. Spirituality. Atheism. Art and music. Tattoos and addiction. Sex and relationships. Guided breathing and meditation. Water and showers. Exercise and exhaustion. Travel and settling. Writing and poetry. Creating art and consuming destruction.
My list is long. I’ve been everywhere, Cricket, and I’ve seen countless things. All in the search of peace. I find it a few times, it emerges slowly, a moray eel, peeking its ugly head out from the depths of my darkest caverns. It slithers across my mind, it electrifies my synapses and sends jolts down my body. For a few seconds, a few moments at a time even, I will feel it. The tingle in my hands, the clearness of nothing as my mind responds to these emotions of having nothing to respond to. The calm that enfolds my body, a feeling I much imagine to occur when you are drowning, moments after your lungs explode and right before your brain collapses in on itself from a lack of oxygen.
Peace. A long elusive thing I seek out, we all do I believe, and one I have found for small amounts of time.
I allow it to rush inside of me, this peace, I allow myself to float in its murkiness, enjoying it like a high for the moments it hits. Very similar to highs experienced prior.
It settles into me. And then, a trigger. Something. Anything, a thought lending itself to a feeling lending itself to a visceral human reaction.
Peace is present for a moment, then I remember why I never cling to this emotional impact, these personal stirrings. It is a nice idea to chase, a woman that I think would be perfect but really lacks the sustenance necessary for holy matrimony. Peace is the idle car sitting in the parking lot with the now assuredly dead cricket trapped inside. Peace is the lack of movement on both their parts. Peace is a filthy degree of settling.
A settling I don’t want. I turn off the water, I allow the thoughts to rush back in, the ugly moray eel that is peace slings back into its cave, hiding until I call for it again with morsels of my pain wrapped delicately for its consumption.
No, I’ve found peace before, time and time again. I can’t abide this feeling however, the deadening of thoughts and pace. The lack of movement. I rather dwell in my ball of energy, move throughout my life trapped in intensity and passion, constantly ripping off the scab of self to reveal my beating, fluttering nature underneath. My wound never being allowed the time to heal.
Peace, you were a beautiful idea for a while. The turmoil has passed however and I’ve grown tired of you. Peace? Give me the chaos of a brave cricket hopping in me car instead, give me the Texas air, give me the stage, the audience of hundreds, the sharing of my darkest moments, the rejection.
You can keep your peace, I will take my life just the way it is; vibrant, pulsating and chaotic. A mess of thoughts and feelings. At least in those moments I know I am alive.