I walk the Iron Horse Trail that follows an old railway line from Pleasanton to Martinez. I am always surprised by the cleanliness of the trail. I don't see the detritus that we humans usual throw randomly about (think of the trails up Mt. Everest). What I notice are items that have been left accidentally: children's toys, shoes and a few dog toys. They have been placed so that the original owner might collect them. When I look at a lost piece, I wonder if that shoe or toy was special to someone and is now sorely missed. The lost object represents a child's first break from innocence, the first realization that nothing is permanent in our lives.
I think of all the things that people must leave behind when they risk the migration from war torn countries in the Middle East and Africa or from places in Central and South America. How hard it must be to trust someone else with your family's lives and to step on a boat or a truck that may or may not arrive safely. What did they have to leave behind along the way?
My family's various branches came to the United States very early, fled the French Revolution, or came because of economic opportunity in the last century. I have never experienced the devastation of a war, which offers a question about myself: how would I react if forced to flee?
With the horrific events that have taken place in Paris, Lebanon, Egypt, and parts of Africa in the last few weeks, I begin to feel overwhelmed. What keeps me going is to think small. I do my daily chores, I sweep the back deck of leaves, I walk our neighborhood, I talk to friends and family, I paint, I go to the gym, I cook meals. I do what I can to contribute. Right now I am tutoring middle school kids in Berkeley with the Writer Coach Connection. I'm collecting extra sweaters, blankets, and jackets to give to the One Warm Coat Project. I'm trying to find some normalcy in the midst of chaotic news.
What are you doing to maintain peace in your life?