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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sometimes Silence Truly is Golden....

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) in June 1856 (...Image via Wikipedia
Author Henry David Thoreau

When was the last time you went an entire day, not having to speak to anyone or spent an extended amount of time in self-imposed isolation?  Personally, I can’t remember ever going a 24-hour period without talking to another individual.

While I’m a professional communicator and a natural chatterbox at heart, I think the issue goes deeper. The truth is that the demands of our western society require us to engage with others whether we want to or not.

I only raise the question of solitude because I stumbled across a quote from Henry David Thoreau where he stated,
“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
Now I love my family dearly and I’m grateful to have a job where I interact with capable and kind people every day.  But all of us could benefit from some quiet, alone time – but that gets shoved aside in the cacauphony of noise that surrounds the “…cares of life, pursuit of wealth and desires for other things…” that most of us seek each day.

Quiet, peaceable solitude allows us to temporarily separate ourselves from the rigorous daily rituals of the church of materialism to which the vast majority of us are fanatic zealots.

Contrast that with the great Hindu leader and liberator of India Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi had a strict regimen of silence that he observed on every Monday.  He was so dedicated to that practice, that he even observed it when visited by the King of England.

Could any of us follow that standard?  I know that I couldn’t.

However, I get small glimpses of the benefits derived from periodic solitude when I run for an hour or two in a park or along a trail. In that setting alone with my own thoughts, the things that don’t matter tend to drain away while those things that matter most – family and faith – which come into a sharper focus for a short time.

The biggest obstacles for me to maintain that focus for longer periods are the mounting distractions and tyranny of the urgent – not necessarily important – issues of life.  Author and Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis is famous for saying,
“If there’s a spirit of hell, it’s the spirit of distraction.”
I believe that statement to be profoundly true, and I could do with a lot less “hell” in my life – anyone else?
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  1. I can go for a fairly long period without speaking, but my family loves to text me for the most minute issues. One of the prices we pay for our addictions to all of our cool technology is the inevitable interruptions. I imagine Gandhi would have had enough sense to turn off his cell phone on Mondays.

  2. I agree about Gandhi's cell phone, but I think he's more of a Bluetooth head set guy - not sure if his robe wrappings have a belt to clip the phone to - regardless, very glad you stopped by to chat a bit!!!