I finished revisiting this old friend, Touching Peace, while flying to Chicago to visit a friend for a few days. Have you ever been packing and decide you’ll never finish your read so you don’t bring another book? Then, in a miraculous turn of events, you finish your book and then you are shocked you have nothing else to read except your beat up NYer magazine? That was me after touching down at O’Hare.
However, I did carry Denis Johnson with me– a poet. I have finished almost the whole thing but I actually wanted to slow myself down and interrupt this book of poetry with some prose. I find when I am reading poetry sometimes it goes down too quickly– I want to savor it! I’ll write more about this when I finish.
Back to Touching Peace– I felt in these troubling political/social times, this is a book everyone should be carrying around with them. Simple passages remind me of core values that can get lost when you are in a type of survival mode. Here’s one quote to give you an idea:
“We accept violence as a way of life, and we water the seeds of violence in ourselves by watching violent TV programs that are poisoning us and our society. If we do not transform all this violence and misunderstanding, one day it will be our own who is beaten or killed, or who is doing the beating. This is very much our affair.” (p78)
I think sometimes Thich Nhat Hanh can be reduced to a simple, foreign, hippy-dippy type of monk– I think with his work, you have to read between the lines and find your own accountability– this passage resonated with me because I recently viewed some episodes of Orange is the New Black from the newest season, and I actually had to turn it off because it was so disturbing. I had tried to watch it taking a break in the afternoon, and I couldn’t work for the rest of the day! I know I am a sensitive creature, but even that surprised me.
Especially on Independence Day, I think it’s crucial we reflect and check in with ourselves– what we are doing right and what we can be doing better. We all have work to do, and we all should try to help each other.
I hope you all have a peaceful holiday!
Thich Nhat Hanh, when the mood strikes, always gets a 5/5 from me. I can’t read his writing continuously (or anyone’s probably…maybe Kurt Vonnegut…), but I love picking up one of his reads every two or three years to remind myself of why I respect him so much.