at 30 years old i was still a kid but didn’t know it. i thought i was all grown up because i’d been on my own half my life, i hadn’t killed myself yet, i’d made lots of money and given it away, i’d traveled the world, i’d loved many and been loved by more, i’d accomplished a few things that others said were impossible, and i finally understood that i was more powerful than i’d allowed myself to admit. i was just old enough, barely wise enough, to know that i didn’t know anything and that not-knowing was the perfect place to begin. i sat alone at the ocean’s edge of a private cove in the caribbean. a midnight full moon lit the beach brighter than early morning. a white heron glowed in the brightness, standing across the cove on one foot, staring at me. i waited for the heron to move, to shift its weight, to fly away. it didn’t. the heron kept staring at me. i stared back. if we were engaged in a staring contest, i lost, because after several minutes, i broke my focus and looked at the moon. i laid down on the beach to gaze at the moon and wondered if the moon could blind me like the sun as moonlight lasered into my brain. then twinkling stars beckoned my attention. i laid still, stiller than the heron across the cove still staring at me. i breathed. i meditated on my breath, expanding the empty space between the inhalation and the exhalation and the next inhalation to match the expanse of the twinkling starry sky above me. i listened to my heartbeat while i breathed. the stars listened to the ocean’s waves. the heron listened to the moon. much later i exited my meditative trance with a single thought: this is peace. i didn’t know until that moment that i’d never experienced peace before, because you can’t know what something feels like until you feel it. i was 30 years old the first time i breathed a moment of peace. i’m grateful it didn’t take me 30 more.