Aggressively peaceful

February 8, 2014 Jessie

Ever since I moved overseas, I think an apt description of me could be “aggressively peaceful.”

Meditating at Machu Picchu, Perú

Every angst, every shred of fear and hurt and worry—all of it sloughed away when I embraced my new, simpler life. Costa Rican Tico culture settled on me like a soft blanket, muffling the noise in my head.

Indeed, the only time I find myself angry these days—and it’s merely annoyed, not angry—it’s because someone is being uselessly dramatic. I have no patience anymore for melodrama. I won’t get into details because that’s tacky, but I have clashed with a friend because I won’t tolerate rubbish drama and interpersonal conflict.

I’m sitting in an airport right now and just heard over the speakers that my flight is delayed by about 30 minutes. That puts my other two connecting flights in jeopardy. Am I upset? Nah. And that’s the thing. When I used to travel with my always-angry ex-husband, I had anxiety attacks. He would “get cranky” over a flight delay or a person looking at him wrong or simply out of tiredness, and I would receive the full burden of that anger. The aggressive body language, the sighing and huffing, the snippy words, they would all settle on my shoulders and push me into the quicksand of unhappiness. I would panic and get furious, and we would fight. I hated travel days even though I loved traveling. Because I was invariably unhappy. Even more so because travel was supposed to be a happy occasion.

Now that I am free of that lifestyle, I will never allow anyone else’s feelings pull me down again. I roll my eyes as I look around at the others in the terminal at the airport and see their expressions of frustration and muttering over the flight delay. I want to stand up and scream, “¡Eh, tranquilo!” Because I am aggressively peaceful now.

There’s a lot of things that do not bother me. Flight delays, lost belongings, embarrassments over faux pas, feeling lost over language barriers, cockroaches in my house, bad meals, stopped traffic due to landslides that block roads with no alternative routes, lack of hot water in my shower, getting rained on unexpectedly, getting splattered with mud by passing cars… the list goes on.

Relaxing at Iximché, Guatemala

The other day I visited Machu Picchu in Perú (blog to come) and the soda fountain broke at the snack bar. A guy got angry, just like my ex would. He kept shaking his head and muttering under his breath, just like my ex would. His wife kept shrinking, just like I would have. I stepped up and smiled and said, “Well, we can’t honestly blame the guy for the soda fountain breaking, can we?” I kept smiling—and kept on smiling—and the guy had to grudgingly admit that was true. His wife—and the poor server—gave me an appreciative smile.

Looking back, I don’t understand how I ever lived in a constant state of anxiety in my previous pampered life. I have so much less now and I am so much more peaceful. The biggest difference is I now actively choose to separate myself from people who approach life with anger or melodrama. It turns out, exposure to aggressive people makes you unhappy.

And that’s why the new me is aggressively peaceful.

Hugging the sunset in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica