In lieu of Remembrance Day, I found myself doing my annual Nov. 11 traditions. Wearing a poppy, watching the Ottawa Ceremony, being silent for the two minutes of 11:11-11:13, walking along the local Memorial Way, and ultimately taking the time to appreciate two luxuries I have at many other people’s expense: Freedom and Peace.
As I was walking along Memorial Way, I found myself contemplating CBC’s WWI stories I had listened to. More specifically the bravery demonstrated by many people before me in the name of a peaceful world. Very shortly, I came to the realization I did not truly understand peace because I could not explain it.
Yes, I have learned the dictionary definitions of peace:
- Freedom from disturbance (tranquility), and
- A state or period in which there is no war or war is ended
But living in a world where there are still active wars taking place, how have I never asked myself, What makes a place peaceful? What is the foundation of peace? Its essence? How do I live a peaceful life? Do I live a peaceful life? I have seen the pop-culture with advocates for “World Peace” but what does it look like? How would I describe it? How do I implement it? What is the difference between inner-peace and world peace?
The questions were spilling out of me as I continued walking, and then two words came to mind: Unconditional Acceptance.
- Unconditional: Not subject to any conditions
- Acceptance: The process or fact of being received as good enough, or suitable.
My brain went a step further and combined these two words into one concept: Unconditional Acceptance: Meaning, the process of being received as good enough, without being subject to any conditions. Acceptance without judgement.
This was powerful. Mind blown. I understood this. A peaceful place, in my experience, is a place where any individual is free and welcome to be the truest version of oneself, without any conditions.
I was still walking as the mental fireworks continued. I retrospectively was remembering the first year I moved to Victoria for track. To say I was struggling with my transition in track and life at this point was an understatement, but there was one day in particular where I had a workout on my own and I had all 8 lanes at Centennial Stadium to myself. I had finished my warm up, walked in through the gates, and let our a huge sigh of relief as I stepped foot on the track. For the first time since I had arrived, I was finally in a familiar space. Just me and the track. No pressure, nobody watching, no judgement. Instead of tension, it felt comfortable, welcoming, and it felt like home. I realized this track didn’t care if I could make rent that month or if I missed a patch waxing my legs, or might throw up when I was done my work-out. It was a track! Whatever stress or judgements I felt that day at the track, I realized were 100% my own. Once I chose to let it go and accepted myself, I ran my times with ease, felt relaxed, and for the first time in Victoria, felt like my true self. I was in a place I now know as peaceful; a place of Unconditional Acceptance.
So what was the lesson? How does this help the reader?
In this reflection, I realized this place is always available to me, 24/7. And not only me, but anyone and everyone. Day or night, the track is always there, accepting whatever and whoever chooses to go to it. Further, this magic happens in a gymnasium, pool, court, mat, turf, field, runway, stage, etc. or wherever your sport takes place. Whether it is quiet moment alone, or a roaring stadium at a championship full of people, the stakes are the same. What are you willing to offer and give in that moment? Are you brave enough to take the opportunity to be your best self?
The beauty of it is you have the freedom of choice, of being accepted by yourself, and others, or not to. This is the luxury of sport. Choosing to experience and express gratitude at the opportunity to be you. The moment looms in those seconds before the gun goes off or the timer starts, but once it does, the choice is in your hands. The privilege to make this choice, I owe to living in a free country. For that I find myself extremely grateful.
Outside of my own thoughts and experiences, I am curious, where do other people feel Unconditional Acceptance? Or other places you feel free to be yourself? I’d love to hear your stories. Comment or send me a note!