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The Inner Peace story: Let’s keep it going

When Sally asked me to take over the facilitation of her column and after giving it some careful thought, I decided to say yes. I am humbled and honored by the challenge, and will do my best to keep up the beautiful tradition she started over a decade ago.

Who am I? How did I wind up here in Ashland? Long story. A widower since 2012, I wandered into Ashland nearly seven years ago, looking for a place to settle after spending most of my life in big cities. I was a child of the 60s and, in those times, an ardent fan of Jack Kerouac. My journey took me from Cincinnati to Chicago, to Miami, to New Orleans, to San Diego, to Los Angeles, to San Francisco and finally, to Seattle, where I settled down for 30 years before retiring to the Oregon coast. There were many other stops (and many occupations) along the way, but the list is too long to include here.

Let me say right off that I do not hold myself to be a beacon of inner peace. Far from it. In fact, my original contribution was spurred by a contrarian impulse. However, as I continued to read and contribute, I came to appreciate the value of this little column out of Ashland in a world and epoch where peace of any kind is depressingly elusive as we are relentlessly assailed by news of pandemics, wars, and climate change events that range from drought to floods in almost biblical proportions.

In the writing and the reading of these columns, I became increasingly preoccupied with the subject. What is inner peace? What is not inner peace? And if I think I’ve found it, how can I be sure it’s not just another mirage, another desperate or delusional sense of happiness? Whatever the case, there is a comfort in having a place to reach out, whether it’s to offer guidance or to ask for it — or simply to provide food for thought to share with others. If this column delivers that, even in the smallest degree, it’s a fine and beautiful gift to our little shire.

It was in that spirit of openness that Sally initiated the column in the Ashland Tidings, buoyed by the following guidance from editor Myles Murphy, which Sally was kind enough to share with me:

“Writers do not have to be leaders or experts. Anyone who has experienced an instant of inner peace can submit their story. ...”

So rather than proclaiming “I have the secret to inner peace; here’s how you can get it,” I want to lift a glass to the seeker. To the degree that I’ve experienced any illumination, it is in the quest and not the getting, just as we often find more meaning in the journey than in the destination. I want to assure the column’s writers and readers that if you’re looking for inner peace, that’s half the battle. Don’t give up! You might find it in a place you do not expect.

So, if you’re thinking of offering a submission but are hesitant, don’t be shy. You never know whom your story or thoughts might touch. Participation in the quest for inner peace is not a contest of egos but a splendid collaboration born out of love and personal transcendence. And don’t overlook this additional change: the column will now run in the Mail Tribune, meaning you have the opportunity to share your inner peace insights and experience with a larger audience!

Finally, for past, present, and future (!) contributors, I want to assure you all that that Sally’s approach will be my approach. The only difference you might notice will be a little more attention to copyediting — i.e., spelling, punctuation, and grammar — as I dust off editorial skills gained from many past years of editorial experience. My intervention will stop there — your voice is your voice, and your perspective is not mine to question or alter.

Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey at rcarey009@gmail.com