My practice today centered mostly on peace. The practice of peace actually began last night when my daughters and I went to Kings Dominion to their annual Halloween Haunt and continued into today as I sat with it and as we talked about it. Halloween Haunt is basically a variety of themed haunted houses, as well as fog filled areas of the park called scare zones where people jump out at you. Horror is not my thing, never has been, and I didn’t think it would be something my daughters would particularly enjoy because it’s not really their thing either. However, my younger daughter really wanted to go and find out for herself. I thought she was old enough to have that opportunity, so we went.
It didn’t go well. We waited on line for at least an hour and a half for the first ride (though it was lots of fun!). Then we walked through the scare zone called Feary Tales. The park was darker than it usually is at night and the “fog” so dense in the scary areas that you really couldn’t see much at all sometimes. And yes there were people in frightening costumes with very gory makeup or masks that would follow you or jump out at you. My youngest quickly discovered that she didn’t like it one bit. It made her extremely uncomfortable and unhappy. I was good with leaving right then if she wanted to, but she didn’t want to feel like we had wasted our time. So we went on one more ride and called it quits after that. Even having to walk out to the exit through the scare zones one more time was difficult for her.
Looking back on it I think part of her discomfort was the general atmosphere of not just the park, but also the people attending. The intention of the whole evening was fear created from violence, and that feeling was pervasive. I know it was supposed to be “all in good fun” but from the perspective of peace, it made me wonder why we would think that violence and fear are good fun. Where is the peace in that?
The only peace I found that night was within myself, and I was quite glad that I was able to find it there so that I could share it with my daughters. The crowd was not peaceful; there was a lot of swearing and yelling and one person being led away in handcuffs. The intention of fear and violence had an impact on all there. We have been to the park at night before and it was nothing like what we experienced last night. I don’t exactly regret going because I think it was a good learning for them both; to honor the kind of people they are in the activities in which they choose to participate. I just wish my youngest could have learned that more gently than what she was feeling last night, but I think she learned it quite clearly through the experience. I don’t think it was fear she was feeling as much as discomfort. I felt it too. What an interesting contrast it was for me when I’m consciously trying to live a life of peace to be in the midst of a creation from such a different place. A good learning for all three of us.
We at least could choose to leave as opposed to people who live surrounded by fear and violence that they can’t so easily escape. Along with my daughters, they are part of the reason for this pledge, so that one day none of us will have to leave anywhere to find peace; it will be within and all around us. I believe each choice we each make for peace and love brings us all closer to that world.