I named this blog seek the peace because that was my goal for volunteering in New York City last year. Now that I’ve moved to Philadelphia, the goal is the same, to seek the peace of the this city and, yes, that can be a very ambiguous and difficult thing to do.
The thing about seeking the peace of the city is that you have to stop seeking everything else. What I mean by this is that I need to be where I am, not only physically but in every other way as well. I think part of the reason I did not truly fall in love with NYC until over halfway through my service term was because I focused so much on the future that I lost sight of the present.
I find that happening in Philly too. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I have a restless soul. I never seem to be content with where I am– I either live in the past, wishing for what I miss or I live in an imagined future, wishing for all this is to discover.
While remembering the past and looking forward to the future are both valuable things, they cannot constantly overrule the present. To seek the peace of the city I must first be in the city. I have to stop living like I am going to move as soon as I get the chance (although I feel that way a lot).
So in one way I have to stop seeking, stop looking for an escape forward or backward. In another way, the seeking has just begun, looking for ways I can be a part of the community and continue this work of peace building that I began years ago.
Part of seeking the peace of a city is approaching the city on its terms and wow does Philly teach me that a lot. Take this simple example: I went to take my new bike for a spin around the block, bragging to dear Timo about how I biked all over NYC. Not even a half block from my house, my bike tire got caught in a trolley track and I slammed into the pavement…hard. Embarrassed and sore, I dragged my wrecked bike back to Timo to see if he could help me fix its twisted frame.
This is life in a new city. While I’ve had life experiences in other cities and while those experiences certainly help me in my life here in Philly, I cannot assume that one city is like the next. Each one has new challenges, new people, new ways of doing, new ways of being. And Philly is no different.