The Haven of Silence

Using the theme of my most recent post—the wisdom of keeping your trap shut—I want to explore the issue of noise. Perhaps it’s due to the exponentially expanding modes of immediate communication or the bizarre confessional turn our culture has taken–compounded by the trend in decreasing civility–but noise is all around us. We are bombarded by it 24/7, 365 days a year.  Frankly, I find it overwhelming.

 

As I progress through life, I find more and more that I crave quiet. I go out of my way to cultivate silence in each of my days because without it, I grow snappish and irritable; I am more prone to make sound-bite pronouncements of my own even if it’s simply in my head. But the noise and the silence to which I refer aren’t just literal, they’re metaphorical, too.

 

We create our own noise by the voices that gin out running commentary in our head, and they get nastier and more brutish when we aggravate ourselves by listening to all the racket “out there” in our daily lives. The consequence of such nonstop blaring is two-fold: 1) we begin to lose our ability to discern the quiet melodies that get buried beneath the din and 2) our thoughts and sensibilities accumulate their own version of callus tissue. This is a serious problem for all of us because it adversely impacts both our relationship with ourselves, as well as our relationship with the world.

 

When you think about all the clamor you listen to—whether voluntarily or not—talk radio, ceaseless chatter from your colleagues or relatives, aggressive advertising, “edgy” music, or (my personal, go-to favorite) mindless tv shows, the noise accumulates. It’s not that each of these things can’t have a place in your life, it’s that we often fail to realize just how much of our time and energy is expended on taking this stuff in.

 

I encourage you to consider what percentage of your day is spent soaking up such hullabaloo. And once absorbed, what do you do with it? Do you feel energized or more creative and positive after a day of immersion? Look, we all have busy lives, and there’s a significant amount of blare that we can’t avoid–unless we decide to remove ourselves to a monastery (the desire to do so could inspire an entirely different post!)–but what I’m trying to say here is that it is easy to forget and lose sight of the adverse impact so much noise has on ourselves and our peace of mind.

 

Therefore, what I’d like you to try—just for the next few days—is to carve out a little quiet time for yourself. A lot of folks choose meditation to do this; I’m simply suggesting that you turn off the radio in your car or kitchen, for starters. Do a rote task in silence; see if you might get your mind to settle down. Hit mute on the sports-casters’ narrative when watching the game. Start with this, and if you kinda sorta like it, consider turning off the tube and taking a walk, alone, with a deliberate focus on quietly observing what’s around you.

 

In order to recapture a part of ourselves, we need to create and safeguard a private haven. It is all too easy to forget the tsunami-like size of the racket around us, which can, with time, erode a part of who we are and replace it with audience-tested beliefs. What you know about yourself is far more valuable than anything any of those Shouters out there could possibly tell you.

 

Experiment. You may find that silence has a lot to say.

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3 Responses to “The Haven of Silence”

  1. Patrick Ross Says:

    Oh, how I crave quiet. But as a journalist, I learned to work in noise–newsrooms, events I was covering. But yes, as I get older, I need more quiet, particularly when I need to tap into my creative self.

  2. dignitarysretreat Says:

    Bravo to you, Patrick, for managing to shut out the noise as you report on issues. It’s a great skill to have. I can sometimes do it, but it is a lot harder to manage when working on creative writing. Thanks for your comment!

  3. grasshopper Says:

    yes!! i’m in favor of silence. 🙂

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