Word of the year 2016: PEACE

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My word of this year is PEACE.

Usually I test out a few words and make an impulsive final choice right before meeting with my WOTY friends. This year, peace was the first word I tried and it felt immediately right. Maybe it’s the way it makes me feel the instant I say or think it. Just to repeat the word peace makes my breathing a little deeper and steadier, seems to calm or comfort me.

The word peace seems connected to the state of being I described in my previous post, on my changing relationship to writing. I don’t want to suggest that I’m no longer anxious about what I’m writing, that I’m not scared sometimes when I write, that I don’t worry about what I’m making. I’m saying that I can feel those emotions and still sense beneath them a sturdiness of purpose and identity that feels solid or rooted, or whole. Maybe, I think, confidence and purpose pours forth from a place of peace.

I am also drawn to the word because pacifism is an important part of my faith tradition. What does pacifism mean, as a lived principle? I want to study how to make peace a part of my life and being. I want to reflect on the concept of peace—is it merely the absence of negatives, of conflict or war? Or is it, rather, the presence of something powerful, even in situations of conflict or distress? Yes, I think so. Peace exists underneath. It can be the source of something, or it can be a state of being. In my meditation right now, I’m exploring the difference between a state of mind that is created by positive thinking, such as “You can do this!”, and a state of mind that is not dependent on exterior forces or encouraging self-talk. It can’t be forgotten or mislaid. It’s just there. It’s like water flowing underground, or like a river that is always flowing. Peace like a river.

What I hope not to explore this year is passivity—an offshoot of the word peace. My intention is not to ignore or avoid conflict. I want to figure out how to address and acknowledge conflict, how to engage with different opinions and ideas, how to disagree without feeling threatened. How to let others be. How often do I choose not to speak my mind, or not to step up and engage, because I’m uncomfortable acknowledging that to do so would be to admit disagreement? It isn’t that conflict doesn’t exist, it’s only that I’m pretending it doesn’t exist. That is not, ultimately, a peaceful stance. It is a passive stance.

Here’s what I believe: Problems can’t be solved or resolved without some conflict, some clashing between different points of view, some emotional discomfort; it often feels easier to walk away, to ignore the problem or complain about it behind the scenes, without confrontation; and sometimes walking away is a measured decision, if we’re not prepared or strong enough for confrontation, or if the problem isn’t worth the risk of disruption to an important relationship. But if change is wanted, change is needed, change is longed for, it’s worth asking: How does change come about? What’s my part? All change is disruptive. It causes discomfort. This year, I challenge myself to engage, to disagree, to disappoint, to carry uncomfortable emotions, to take responsibility for my beliefs, and to express them from a place of peace.

Peace is a kind word. It’s a caring word. I think it’s a word that will take me outside of my own head and desires, and connect me to others.

This year, I’m going to rely on the strength of this word. It’s shaping up to be a year of travel, of new responsibilities and ventures, and of trying to keep my shit together while the whirl of our family’s activities and personalities, mixed with my own ambitions and desires, spins and dances and pulls me in many different directions.

Peace. Peace. Peace.

xo, Carrie

Word of the year 2015: WRITE
Writing adventure: reflection on the first series

4 Comments

  1. Thank you, Carrie. Some very good reminders for me. Change and peace.

    Peace,
    Carol

    Reply
    • Loved your 2015 word, “write”; I belong to a Queen’s Womens’ Association Group (QWA) called scribblers which meets monthly to share our writing! Love the blank page and setting out to write.
      Your 2016 word is the most important word in our language at this point in our world. Without it,
      there will be no world. Our writing should address this. LK

      Reply
  2. I love this word. It’s what I felt when I left your workshop the other morning. Thank you very much for that. I have wanted to use that word in the title of the memoir I would love to write, have wanted to write for a long time now. It makes me feel better just saying it or seeing it. In a world where there is so much chaos, it is a nice balancing word leading to a feeling.

    Reply
  3. What a great word! My job has a lot to do with peacebuiding, but it can be easy to forget what the word even means because we use it so much. This week, I would like to remember that peace is a kind word and that is what we are working towards. Thanks!

    Reply

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