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What gives me peace of mind?

Updated: May 25

The first thing that comes to mind is knowing that my family is safe, healthy, and happy. I cannot imagine how I could find any true measure of peace, absent that. Certainly, the loss of my parents turned my life upside down. Mike’s death was no less sad than my parents, but there were several years to prepare for it emotionally, and in the end, to pray for a speedy end to his suffering. In some ways, his passing brought with it a degree of peace of mind.

Recent neuroscience research suggests that uncertainty can create fear. Our brains are prediction machines. They are constantly taking in sensory information and comparing it to our understanding of our environment and the world we live in. Our amygdala, the portion of our brains most closely associated with fear and anger, is triggered not when we are exposed to something dangerous, rather it is triggered by unpredicted events. It seems antithetical to suggest we can find peace of mind when we feel fear or anger. From that perspective, one could say that a predictable life is one where there is a better chance for peace of mind.

When I first learned that I was losing my central vision I was afraid. It was unexpected and I had no idea what the future would hold for me. With time, I began to understand the effect it would have on my life, and while I would have preferred a different reality, I was no longer frightened because I knew what to expect. With that came a measure of peace in my life. That said, there are still times in my life when the unexpected happens.

I experienced this earlier this year, while Marilyn and I were in the furniture store buying our new couch. It was late and the store had closed after we went inside. Marilyn walked away to finish the transaction with the sales agent, She didn’t go far and assumed I knew where she was. I didn’t. After several minutes I got up to go look for her. I walked around the store. I saw people standing around looking at furniture or doing paperwork, but none of them looked like Marilyn, although it is hard for me to see faces these days. I gave up looking and tried to call her on her cell phone several times but she had left it in the car and the battery on her Apple Watch had died. Finally, I decided to just wait for her in the car, but they had locked the doors when the store closed and I couldn’t get out. I was alone, trapped, and I was furious. My anger was silly.

As it turned out, Marilyn was only twenty feet away. I was in no danger and could have just sat there and waited but I suddenly felt lost. I hadn’t expected to be left alone and there I was with no way out. In hindsight, The fear that led to the anger is understandable and more than a little embarrassing for a sixty-five-year-old man.

Today, I feel more at peace than at any other time in memory. It feels like I did a lot of work to find that peace, which is strange to say because, in the end, it isn’t a hard thing to find. All you have to do is look for it.

My vision gives me plenty of opportunities to be angry or fearful, but those are fleeting moments. My life is far more predictable these days, and while there was a time I might have seen that as a bad thing, I find comfort in it now. I guess there is something to that neuroscience.

Marilyn and I are very fortunate. While we are not the wealthiest people, we have the resources to live a good life without the need to punch the clock for the rest of our lives. As silly as it may seem, I am finally able to see that my career was only a means to an end, not the purpose of my life. It is hard to see that while you are lost in the middle of it. I guess that’s why they call it a rat race.

I love the life that Marilyn and I have created for ourselves. I love having a partner like her to spend the rest of my life with. It gives me comfort to know that we will be by each other's side until the end, I am so proud of Jennifer and Jonathan. I don’t worry about whether they will be alright. There will of course be challenges in their lives, both big and small, but I know they have what it takes to weather any storm life throws at them. I love hearing the laughter in their voices, and seeing them find their way in this world,

That is what brings me peace of mind.

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