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KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

As memories of the magnificent Olympics put on by my native country begin to fade there is something that will never fade for me. And that is the evocation during the Olympics of the classic wartime slogan that helped the British people meet the challenge of the Blitz.

Keep calm and carry on

"Keep calm and carry on." If these words helped an entire country face the horror of systematic, indiscriminate bombing in WWII – I was a 7-year-old living with my mother in central London when the bombing began – perhaps they can help us meet the challenges we face in our lives today.

For me the words convey a beautiful truth.  Attitude and action are one. They can't be separated. When we choose calm, when we love calm, and when we stay calm, we open a door to positive, victorious action.

It took me a long time to discover that we don't have to look for calm as if it is somehow outside ourselves, hiding perhaps in a mysterious faraway place. Calm is our true nature. It is who we truly are.

Difficult feelings – fearful feelings – arise in all our lives. They sure did for me one night in London when the apartment building in which my mother and I lived began to sway back and forth like a tree in the wind because of the blast of the German bombs.

But that moment of blind panic did not last. My mother was beside me, her arm around me, and I remember as vividly as if it was yesterday how she kept saying soothingly, “It's all right, it's all right."

Challenges can lead to a greater experience of our unconquerable spirit

We can't help but feel the impact of difficult feelings as they rise up in us. But one of the most important lessons we can possibly learn is that while difficult feelings come and go – there is something in us that is unchanging. It is our own true nature. It is our unconquerable spirit, not subject to external events.

Ultimately, it does not matter what life throws at us. We may bend when challenges beset us -- just like the tree. But as we persist in our love for what does not change – for the truth -- we discover that challenges can lead to a greater experience of our unconquerable spirit and the joy of our true nature.

Keep calm and carry on. In a way it’s a paradox. But they really do go together. I have found, as I’m sure you have, that as I proceed with the simple tasks and activities of life – what needs doing -- perhaps stopping to make a nice hot drink as the Brits did in the Blitz – the simple fact of "carrying on" helps me stay calm.

Where does the calm come from?

But where does the calm come from? As I say, it is our own calm. It does not come from any external source. We don’t have to beg for it or engage in complicated practices to try to entice calm into our experience.

There are practical things we can do to help us stay calm, of course. Going for a walk. Taking time to be in Nature. Doing some abdominal breathing. And so on. But fundamentally, if you love calm, calm will love you, because it is who you truly are. And because calm is the precursor of wisdom, you will know what you need to do next.

Calm is our birthright

Calm is our birthright. And as you claim your birthright you will come through the exigencies of these days in fine style just like the Brits did in the Blitz. Not only that, but you will find kindred spirits on the way whom you might otherwise never have met.

I send greetings and best wishes. Keep calm and carry on. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above.

Picture credit: Sheffield Libraries and Archives

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaylee August 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I had to smile when I saw the title of this post in my inbox…I said just this to my boyfriend yesterday as we were both stressing about our move. You’re right, Chris. We can choose calm and love, even in the middle of chaos. Thanks for this important reminder. =)
Kaylee recently posted..Strap on Your Overalls and Tend to Your Goals Like a Good Farmer

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

Kaylee, tell me about it. JoAnn and I moved to our townhome in Denver just over two years ago and talk about chaos and stress. We’ve often said we’re sure glad we made the move when we did, because we ain’t getting any younger biologically.

So hang in there Kaylee and remember, Keep calm and carry on. It was a real pleasure to get your comment. Best wishes to you both.

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Donna August 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

“calm is the precursor of wisdom”…….I love that! I am an only child (65!) dealing with an elderly mother (91!) and I need to remember that. Thank you! I always enjoy your posts.

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

I’m delighted to hear from you Donna and thank you for your kind words. Being a caregiver is not easy for absolute sure. I am proud of you for taking on the challenge and I do wish you and your mother the very best as you move thru this cycle together. I am sure she is so very, very thankful that you are there for her. Just be sure to keep some time for yourself and keep things in balance as far as possible. Love to you Donna.

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maria August 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Beautifully put, practical and the best of the noble British spirit too.

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

It’s a pleasure to hear from you Maria. Thank you for your words. What an extraordinary thing that we can connect in this way and the spiritual being that we are is the same now as it was when we first became acquainted many years ago. Good luck and God bless.

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Carol Carlson August 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

“IF you love calm, calm will love you.” I really like this. I think this is my nature. Nice writing, Chris.

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

Carol, great to hear from you. Thank you for your comment and you bet this is your nature. God bless.

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Sharon Ann Wikoff August 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Hello Christopher,
Thank you for this wonderful posting. How fortunate you were to have a mother with such calm. From your posting, I can tell you do live with CALM. Thank you for sharing. Sharon

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

Hi Sharon, I’m very happy to have this chance to connect with you and thank you for your words. I’m not sure my Mum was always calm, she had worries and concerns like anyone else, but she sure rose to the occasion that night. I think it’s a creative thought to think about once in awhile that this ability to ‘rise to the occasion’ really is in every one of us. Love and blessings to you and take care.

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Valerie Baker August 17, 2012 at 8:35 am

Chris, thank you for another offering of inspiration and assurance. In these intense times, helping one another connect with our calm and wisdom is perhaps the greatest service to be offered.
Valerie Baker recently posted..GO,WORLD! THE OLYMPIC GAMES

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hey, how are you Valerie? Thank you for your comment. I love the way you are able to distil a lot of meaning and truth in just a few words. You have a real gift. Keep up the good work.

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Valerie Baker August 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Thank you, Chris. As a writer I admire, your compliment is treasured!
Valerie Baker recently posted..GO,WORLD! THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Maureen Moeller August 17, 2012 at 9:28 am

Chris, this is a truly beautiful blog post. Somehow it simplifies all that I have been studying and practicing the past five years. Tears well as I imagine that little seven year-old shivering with his mother during the Blitz. No child should have to endure war time…but your mother was there for you; what a blessing.

My Uncle Don lost his life during that war before I had a chance to meet him. My father saw his brother’s grave in Belgium for the first time 2 years ago at age 81. My sister had the resources to take my parents for the European trip of a lifetime; what a blessing.

War is not our true nature, but your words of wisdom, “Be calm and carry on” , reminds us we can overcome and partake in the beauty and simplicity of life (stopping to make a nice hot drink) by remembering our true nature. Much love to you and your dear mother wherever she presides:-)

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Christopher Foster August 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

Your words are very precious Maureen. Thank you for sharing from your heart so eloquently. I was moved by your words about war and how war is not our true nature. We surely can, as you say, partake in the beauty and simplicity of life even in the midst of conflict and chaos.

I’m glad your father had a chance to see his brother’s grave, that trip must have been a blessing indeed. Thank you for thinking of my Mum and thank you for being a kindred spirit Maureen.

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Russ Brockel August 27, 2012 at 3:16 am

Hi Chris, I very much enjoyed your blog and I hope I can give a different take on the grace encapsulated in the words ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ as indicative of British culture at that time.

My father was German and fought on the Russian front at age 18. He was finally taken prisoner by the British (thankfully) and ended up as a POW in England. When the war was over my father was given enough money to pay for his passage back to his ‘homeland’. On arriving in his home town he was ridiculed and spat at by the locals. He then made up his mind to return to England where he had been well treated throughout his time there. He described to me his captors as “kind and generous” and on returning that treatment continued for the most part, there are always exceptions to every rule. He settled in England, fell in love with & married an English girl, had a family and lived a productive life full of generosity and grace.

So to me the words ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ express the best of all human qualities…dignity and compassion.

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2012 at 10:37 am

What a beautiful, inspiring story Russ. Thank you so much for sharing it. You must be very proud of your father. He sure followed his best instincts, didn’t he? Could I ask you please what his first name was? While I’m at it, I wonder if I could also ask whereabouts in UK your parents lived? All the very best to you Russ. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance.

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