Take the time to reflect, find your inner peace


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

Before I share why I am leading with this quote, though, let me share some of my recent week serving as mayor of the best small town in America.

Recently, I had a chance to join mayors and economic development directors from around the state to discuss future opportunities for our communities. Like always, the sessions were good, and the hallway conversations were even better. What often happens is you hear something that sparks conversation related to your community with both presenters and other civic leaders between sessions, and this one was no different.

As we shared about various economic-related issues, I was sharing that our downtown’s first floor occupancy was in the low 80% range. Just after sharing this bit of information, I noticed the eyebrow of an economic development person raised a bit more than normal.

Before the next speaker took the stage, I had learned that having our first floors in this range was ahead of most of the communities I was talking to. One even shared they were in the mid-50% range.

Over the next few hours, I learned we are ahead in some areas and behind in a few, as well. All communities have issues, and we share many of the same ones. Days like this, though, remind me that we often forget to remember the good as we focus on the bad.

I joined several area volunteers recently to help place flags on the graves of service members for Memorial Day. Thank you to all of the organizers for your dedication to keeping this tradition alive here in Jackson County. While scheduling conflicts didn’t allow me to help as long as I would have liked, it was still a good chance to reflect on all of the sacrifice and service it takes to enjoy our freedoms here in America.

Those reflections often leave me with few words as I think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, and I hope you took some time around this Memorial Day to think about those who are no longer with us.

A member of our city team recently had an interaction with a community member that was less than desirable. The community member chose foul language and a loud voice to try to resolve a problem that was already being looked into by the time of the interaction. The old phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” might have applied since this team member was the one passing the information along to those working to solve the problem.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure I have raised my voice and probably chosen the wrong words more than once in my lifetime, but I do have a standing rule with all of our city employees that they do not have to tolerate being cussed at. They are more than welcome to disengage from the conversation in the event that someone on the phone or in person chooses that path to try to solve their problems.

As I was informed of this most recent situation, I reminded our team member that the battle this person was fighting was probably not with them or even the department but that it was within themselves. The problem they were calling about was just what pushed them past the boiling point for it to come out.

This little bit of knowledge doesn’t help lower the tension at the moment, but I believe it helps them with the next conversation. We never know what is going on with others. They may be fighting battles on many fronts that we are unaware of.

This leads me to a quote from Chinese Philosopher Laozi: “One cannot reflect in streaming water. Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.”

Take time to reflect and find your inner peace so maybe you will have a chance to share it with others even when their conflict may not be with you.

Matt Nicholson is the mayor of Seymour. Send comments to [email protected].

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