The greatest peace of mind can come from the moments that are most threatening to our very existence.
This past week proved to be the most difficult I’ve lived since moving to California.
My (now-ex) roommate had an explosive temper — not to mention he was a lot bigger than me, passive-aggressive and could be very intimidating.
I felt major anxiety whenever he was around. That, plus the awful process of titrating off of an antidepressant I’d been taking for eight years, made for a weekend full of emotional turmoil.
It got worse Monday when my roommate blew up again, and I truly wondered if I was in danger of him.
I fled the house and slept in a hotel that night since I have no family within a thousand miles of here.
Even with the rush of protective adrenaline, I became exhausted from the stress of it. Worse, it was midterm week.
I couldn’t skip class to rest, not even on the day I had everything I owned packed into vehicles. I didn’t know how I could possibly get through the week.
Of course, I did get through it.
My parents, talking with me on the phone, were extremely supportive and a couple of friends helped me with practical matters. One new friend brought his truck by the house Tuesday morning and helped me haul away some of my bigger items like my keyboard and bike.
By Wednesday, I was so tired I could barely stand up.
Panic gripped me. What if I fail my classes because I can’t show up? What if I can’t continue with school now? What if —
But there was nothing I could do except let go. In some moments during the week, all I could was literally put one foot in front of the other.
For my last midterm on Thursday, I was so tired that I alternated between laughing and crying. Even on the walk from my car to the classroom, I had to stop and rest.
But I had let go of it. To God or the universe, I said, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and trusted I would survive it.
In doing that, there was immense peace, like curling up in the lap of God and letting myself fall asleep.
Ironically, once the stress diminished from critical threat-level to normal college student-level, I found my peace of mind actually level off for a couple days.
While I would not willingly go back to Monday night for any amount of money, it did force me to let go, and in doing so, to enter a state of surrender.
I’m not the only one who reports this kind of experience.
People tell of getting a serious cancer diagnosis and finally coming to know a peace like they’ve never known before. It is because we finally release this idea that we can control our lives.
Because we can’t. Not completely. So much of it is beyond our control. But if we can accept that, we can have peace no matter what may come.
Matthew Stensland-Bos explores consciousness, love, healing, and grounded spirituality in Know This Love, a weekly SFBay opinion column. You can find him on his website, www.wordswithmatthew.com.