I'd like to talk about something very simple—the story of every human being. This story is quite interesting because it definitely has some action, some drama. Sometimes there is comedy, sometimes a little tragedy. That makes it interesting. So, what is the story? I don't have to tell it. You already know it because it is your story. It's about you, not about me. It is not about a king, a lion in the jungle, or a little mouse. It's about you.
As long as breath comes into you, as long as you are alive, the story is not finished. It is still evolving. At least one part of its evolution depends upon you. Some people say, "I am bound by destiny. Whatever happens in this world, I'm not responsible for it. Whatever I do, somebody up there is pulling the strings and I am dancing—I'm a puppet."
I'm not going debate that because it would be pointless. What is not pointless is that a certain part of the story is dependent upon you. You control the outcome of part of the story—not all of it, maybe, but a certain part of it.
The part of the story you control is about real joy, happiness, contentment. It is also about recognition and about looking within and finding answers to the questions that you may not yet even have asked.
This story begins with you: "Once there was a living, breathing, unique person." There is no one like you. There may be someone with the same hairstyle or someone who has the same clothes, but there is no one who smiles the way you do when you are happy. No one can smile like you. No one can be thankful quite like you. It is your expression of gratitude, of joy, that makes you unique. You have been given your own palette of expression. Even if a person doesn't want to, they express. You don't have to know a person's life history to see that they are sad. You don't have to know about the person's life history to see that they are happy, and you don't even have to see a person's teeth to see that they are smiling. You can look in their eyes and see the expression of joy.
What we feel inside, we can express. What can we feel? We can feel the ultimate contentment; we can feel peace. This is what we have the capacity to feel. Therein lies the reality of what is possible.
All these things point to the beauty within you that is waiting to shine. You recognize beauty because you are familiar with beauty. You understand joy because you are familiar with joy. These things are not unknown to you. What do we do in our lives? We ignore. We ignore what is real and we ignore what the heart is saying. No one tells us, "This should be your priority." Everything else is our priority.
Here is an analogy. You are going on a long journey through the desert, and you have done a very good job of packing. You have packed clothes, shoes, a little tent, and food. You have even packed a little hat with a solar fan to keep you cool. You have already packed fifteen suitcases of things.
Then I come along. You are very proud of everything you have done. Everything you have packed shows meticulous planning. Then I ask, "Did you pack some water?" People have different reactions to this. Some say, "Thank you. Thank you for reminding me to bring water. In making this incredible list and being so immaculate in packing, I completely forgot." They pack some water and they have a great journey.
In this life, keep it simple. Keep it real. Keep it so you can walk with pride every day and not be burdened with so much unnecessary stuff that you carry with you.
In this life, we need to stand on our own feet. We need to stand proud because we are alive. We need to stand straight, not hunched over by the burdens we have accumulated. Of all the things we need to pack, we need to pack that which is essential, and we need to know what is essential.
Let me take water wherever I go so that, when I am thirsty, I will be able to drink and quench my thirst. Let me take food with me wherever I go so that, when I am hungry, I can eat and satisfy my hunger. Let me take an umbrella with me so that, when it is hot, I can open it and sit in the shade and rest a while.
Understand in your life the meaning of being alive. Then understand the need of your heart to have peace in this life. Peace, you need. A story is being written. My suggestion is that you start writing it, because it is going to be written whether you write it or not.
Why not have a beautiful, happy ending to this story? It's your pen. Change the tragedies. Joy? Give it more. Humor? Give it as much as you want. It's your story.
It's up to you. Peace, you need. Ask your heart. Your heart will tell you. This is what the heart has been saying since you were very small. You have ignored it, but you don't need to. I am here to remind you about that.
Some people wonder, "If I attain peace, will I still love my family?" Of course. Some people think that, to attain peace in this life, you have to give up everything. No. You don't have to give up everything. All you have to give up is your sadness, your hate. All you have to give up are things you don't want. If you really want them, you can still keep them and have peace, because peace is not an absence of something. Peace is very real in itself.
The main thing is that you need to have peace in your life. Write the story right. The person who is going to read it is you. Make it good; make it interesting; make it real. Make this breath count. Make this day count. Make this life count. It is a gift unparalleled.