Finding peace in a lifetime of traveling a road less taken
By Stuart Douglas
What a gift my life has been, always to see the glass half full, to buck the trend and be a believer that peace is not only possible but that it pervades the vast majority of every culture. I have easily found peace in all phases of my life.
Attending St. Paul’s boarding school for five years, starting at age 13, I was fortunate to meet Robert Frost in my junior year. Forever after, my life journeyed the road less taken. I began writing poetry, mostly about stopping by my own woods, lakes, rivers, meadows, mountains, and all peaceful places to commune with nature and Mother Earth.
I have self-published four books. The first immediately followed 9/11 and was titled “Peace Is One World Smiling.” I was in Manhattan on Sept. 10, re-exploring all my favorite places in the city, including Central Park. I boarded a Circle Island cruise at 2 p.m. My pictures of the World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, George Washington Bridge, and life along the East and Hudson rivers were the epitome of a peaceful day in the Big Apple. That book has a unique take on what happened the next day. The cover depicts over two dozen smiling faces of both the young and the old from all over our planet. My focus was on the opportunity for a peaceful response. Every chapter spotlighted peace, including the last chapter “The Peace of Death,” in which I describe my near-death experience.
Book number two, titled “North to Alaska and Beyond,” was written during and after my 61-day epic trip of a lifetime. I journaled every day, wrote many poems set in paramount peaceful places, and I was at peace amongst potential wilderness confrontations. So vast, so remarkably beautiful and unspoiled, so comfortable and inviting was Canada and our Last Frontier. I camped or stayed at youth hostels every night. My interactions with world travelers were always full of peace and hope.
Book three, “Discovering My Passion, Becoming Stuart 1961-1986,” covers events from high school graduation to life-changing moments, leading to buying a failed Vermont country Inn in 1974 during extremely challenging times (our mortgage rate was 18½ percent). We operated it successfully for the next 12 years. With 13 rooms, later to become 17, public dining three meals a day, proper marketing, continuing maintenance, and, of course, unexpected setbacks, the first two years presented our biggest challenge. We could feed over 120 people per day.
After a visit from Jerry Hulse, the travel editor of the Los Angeles Times, in July 1977, here is what followed on Sept. 25, 1977 on the front page of the Sunday travel section: “The Inn at Weston, It’s so Peaceful in Their Country.” It was beautifully presented with pictures of my wife and me in front of our sign. Included was a synopsis of our lives, the inn’s history, and raves about our “Country Cuisine.” He described our town as if it were a Norman Rockwell painting. There was never a downtime after that as we spread peaceful times to all our guests. A feature article in Gourmet Magazine (December 1978) was icing on our cake.
My last book in 2020 is my most beloved—a compilation of a lifetime of poetry and my favorite Peace Signs, made all over the world from natures abundant offering of materials. The title, “Poems From My Heart, Peace From My Hand,” says it all. Those words were in the form of a circle on the cover. The vertical center line was my name. The side lines that completed a unique peace sign are two powerful words: JUSTICE and HARMONY. That creation summarizes my life well lived. When I read my poems, peace jumps out in many forms. Communing with nature and accessing inner peace are my stalwarts as I maneuver not so delicately on my road less traveled. I am so grateful for being the “Peaceman” that I am and for my diverse accomplishments.
To my readers, I suggest that the little unplanned acts of kindness that we do matter the most. Think about the gigantic word PEACE every day; crawl inside it, and it will radiate through our communities, states, and countries, making the world a wee bit better every single day. Every day is a treasure. Peace to all!
Stuart has traveled extensively. He loves golf, tennis, fly fishing and, until age 70, race running. He continues his work as a “Professional Organizer.”
Want to contribute? Send 600-to-700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (email@example.com).