If you could only keep quiet,
clear of memories and expectations,
you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events.
It is your restlessness that causes chaos.
If you could only keep quiet,
clear of memories and expectations,
you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events.
It is your restlessness that causes chaos.
After a thirty-year study of time diaries, two sociologists found that Americans were actually working fewer hours than we did in the 1960s, but we feel as if we’re working more. We have the sense, too often, of running at top speed and never being able to catch up. With machines coming to seem part of our nervous systems, while increasing their speed every season, we’ve lost our Sundays, our weekends, our nights off— our holy days, as some would have it; our bosses, junk mailers, our parents can find us wherever we are, at any time of day or night. More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.As I came down from the mountain, I recalled how, not many years ago, it was access to information and movement that seemed our greatest luxury; nowadays it’s often freedom from information, the chance to sit still, that feels like the ultimate prize.
~ Pico Iyer, “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere.” (Simon & Schuster/ TED, November 4, 2014)
Image Source: Journalofanobody
I imagine a word, a single word, that would pierce through the hardest of hearts.
But who am I? No one and everyone…
Quiet and still. There are so many things I cannot explain.
Be compassionate. Aequo animo.
~ Marion Blank, Note to Self
I think there’s still a small block of original quiet
that exists in the world.
3 a.m. to 5 a.m. —
a last natural wilderness,
time’s shrinking little Antarctica.
I wish the whole day were like breakfast, when people are still connected to their dreams, focused inward, and not yet ready to engage with the world around them. I realized this is how I am all day; for me, unlike other people, there doesn’t come a moment after a cup of coffee or a shower or whatever when I suddenly feel alive and awake and connected to the world. If it were always breakfast, I would be fine.”
― Peter Cameron, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: A Novel
The sounds of engines leave the air.
The Sunday morning silence comes at last.
At last I know the presence
of the world made without hands,
the creatures that have come to be
out of their absence.
Calls of flicker and jay fill the clear air.
Titmice and chickadees feed
among the green and the dying leaves.
Gratitude for the gifts of all the living
and the unliving,
gratitude which is the greatest gift,
quietest of all,
passes to me through the trees.
~ Wendell Berry, Sabbaths, 2007 XI
Liz Danzico is the creative director for NPR. Here’s how she opens her post:
I think a lot about what I would say to the younger version of myself if I met her again, if I met her through the still moments of all the motion of youth — when she was sitting at the piano, or if I saw her alone on the playground, or if I watched her read, voice quivering, her short stories in front of the class…
Don’t miss the rest of her post here: Stillness in Motion.
…I’ve never seen anything as strong or as stubborn,” he says.
And I think,
how do you tame a wild tongue,
train it to be quiet,
how do you bridle it and saddle it?
How do you make it lie down?
~ Gloria Anzaldua, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue“, From Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
But the pleasant thing is to wake early, throw open the window, and lie reading in bed.
- Edward Fitzgerald, from a letter to W. F. Pollock, May 3, 1840
Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.
― Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies ( Picador, 2006)
“This is Your Brain on Silence“ by Daniel A. Gross:
“Silence, Please” has proven to be the most popular theme in Finland’s rebranding, and one of the most popular pages on VisitFinland.com. Maybe silence sells because, so often, we treat it as a tangible thing—something easily broken, like porcelain or crystal, and something delicate and valuable. Vikman remembers a time when she experienced the rarity of nearly complete silence. Standing in the Finnish wilderness, she strained her ears to pick out the faintest sounds of animals or wind. “It’s strange,” she says, “the way you change. You have all the power—you can break the silence with even with the smallest sounds. And then you don’t want to do it. You try to be as quiet as you can be.”
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays
↓ click for audio (“Ruth and Sylvie” by Daniel Hart)
↓ click for audio (Linda Ronstadt – “Blue Bayou”)
We enter the meditative state induced by counting laps, and observe the subtle play of light as the sun moves across the lanes. We sing songs, or make to-do lists, or fantasize about what we’re going to eat for breakfast. Submersion creates the space to be free, to stretch, without having to contend with constant external chatter. It creates internal quiet, too. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of them all, was found to have A.D.H.D. when he was a child; he has called the pool his “safe haven,” in part because “being in the pool slowed down my mind.”
…Five hundred lengths in a pool were never boring or monotonous; instead, Dr. Sacks writes, “swimming gave me a sort of joy, a sense of well-being so extreme that it became at times a sort of ecstasy.” The body is engaged in full physical movement, but the mind itself floats, untethered…The enforced solitude is at odds with where we are as a culture. Our gyms are full of televisions tuned to SportsCenter and cable news. We’re tethered to our devices, even at bedtime. With that pervasive lack of self-control, who has the willpower to turn off technology for any meaningful period of time? I submit: Sliding into the water is the easiest way to detach from your phone.
~ Bonnie Tsui, The Self Reflecting Pool
Photograph: Troy Jack
Frank Bruni, NY Times: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:
Read Bruni’s worthy full article here: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:
Source: Living in Maine
The blue river is gray at morning and evening.
There is twilight at dawn and dusk.
I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.
~ Jack Gilbert, Waking at Night
Ouch. Hitting close to the bone here…
If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer.
~ Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. The second Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is one of just three people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. After Hammarskjöld’s death, U.S. president John F. Kennedy regretted that he opposed the UN policy in the Congo and said: “I realise now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century.”
“…Instead, I found that in quiet, ordinary, every day life, I would hear the word whispered to me in simple moments: give that car the room to merge ahead; give that person your full attention – remain quiet and let them talk; spend a few moments in conversation with the building custodian when leaving work, give that compliment to the woman in line ahead of you with the gorgeous hair; tell the person who helped you that they made an impact; express gratitude to the ones who are there for you all the time; give a moment a chance to happen instead of taking over…”
~ Bonnie, “How Will I Be Changed” @ PageKeeper
Don’t run any more.
How softly it rains
On the roofs of the city.
All things are…
~ Czeslaw Milosz, After Paradise
Here it comes again.
How many flights?
How many times?
And yet again,
at 1:30 pm this afternoon.
The Big Steel Bird reaches maximum altitude.
Floating above fluffy pillows of whiter than white.
Sailing below the Heavens’ bluest of blues.
Your Life resting in the hands of the trusty pilot.
Your Body in a straightjacket.
Your knees butting up against the seat in front.
Your arms tight to your body. Tight to your sides.
Your tension giving way. [Read more…]
I love the quiet that used to disturb me.
I have distance on my life.
The boast and pity of self-regard
have fallen somewhat behind.
the home I carry with me,
I settle into the clouds.
On the mountain
I sit quietly in a sage meadow
visited by the same bees that make lovers
of flowering bushes.
I become part of the golden comb hidden
in the hive humming with delight.”
~ Stephen Levine
Wilferd Arlan Peterson (1900–95) was born in Whitehall, Michigan and lived most of his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was an American author who wrote for This Week magazine (a national Sunday supplement in newspapers distributed to 13,000,000 readers). For twenty-five years, he wrote a monthly column for Science of Mind magazine. He published nine books starting in 1949 with The Art of Getting Along: Inspiration for Triumphant Daily Living.” Peterson was regarded as “one of the best loved American writers of the 20th century, renowned for his inspirational wisdom and aphoristic wit” by the Independent Publishers Group. His influences include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Abraham Lincoln, among many others. His contemporaries include Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, and current writers and philosophers such as Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy have referred to Peterson’s works. He was married to Ruth Irene Rector Peterson (1921-79). He credits his wife Ruth as being the inspiration for his work (saying that while he “wrote about the art of living, she lived it”), and they collaborated often on producing these inspirational books. (Source: Wiki)
Source: Thank you Perpetua at The Seeker
“We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us. How can we still the noise within?…In Vipassana you concentrate on sensation in stillness, sitting down, not necessarily cross-legged, though most people do sit that way. And sitting without changing position, sitting still. As soon as you try to do this, you become aware of a connection between silence and stillness, noise and motion. No sooner are you sitting still than the body is eager to move, or at least to fidget. It grows uncomfortable. In the same way, no sooner is there silence than the mind is eager to talk. In fact we quickly appreciate that sound is movement: words move, music moves, through time. We use sound and movement to avoid the irksomeness of stasis. This is particularly true if you are in physical pain. You shift from foot to foot, you move from room to room. Sitting still, denying yourself physical movement, the mind’s instinctive reaction is to retreat into its normal buzzing monologue — hoping that focusing the mind elsewhere will relieve physical discomfort. This would normally be the case; normally, if ignored, the body would fidget and shift, to avoid accumulating tension. But on this occasion we are asking it to sit still while we think and, since it can’t fidget, it grows more and more tense and uncomfortable. Eventually, this discomfort forces the mind back from its chatter to the body. But finding only discomfort or even pain in the body, it again seeks to escape into language and thought. Back and forth from troubled mind to tormented body, things get worse and worse. Silence, then, combined with stillness — the two are intimately related — invites us to observe the relationship between consciousness and the body, in movement and moving thought.”
~ Tim Parks, Inner Peace
This essay by Tim Parks is worth reading in its entirety. You can find it at this link. Parks references his book Cleaver in the essay. The book was chosen as a Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year. It is one of the funniest novels that I have read. You can read my review of Cleaver at this link.
The Sheer Terror of Sitting Still by Mark Morford @ SFGate, Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Pause and you get eaten…Ruthlessly forward is the only perspective, the only direction, the only proper attitude. Self reflection and mindful presence? Calm and OM and inner stillness? Sounds adorable, but holy hell have you seen the pace of the world today? Who has the time? Who has the energy? Who has the patience? And really, does meditation even work? All the hoopla, all the supposed health benefits, all the ancient Buddha wisdom, even modern science slowly coming around to the idea that clearing your mind and working the “attention muscle” is beneficial for reducing all sort of toxic things, like stress, anger, road rage…But come on. There’s so much to do! Money to make. Empires to build. Spines to slouch and hoodies to wear and souls to crush. This is America. Work is all there is. Well, work, and the Internet…Eat or get eaten, sucker…for most Americans, stillness is… how to put this honestly? Terrifying. Deep, even momentary quiet freaks people out. The hardest thing anyone can ever do in our culture is sit still for a moment. The demons! The memories! Voices! Kids! Video games! The guilt and the doubts and the FOMO, all hammering down on you like a cold rain made of fear and capitalism and shame. And it’s only been… 27 seconds. Meditation is hard. We are addicted! White noise and activity filler and lists. Do you know how many apps there are for making To-Do lists, setting alarms, organizing schedules, keeping track of appointments and tasks and urgent needs? I don’t know, either; I’m far too busy writing this column to count them all…
READ MORE including his conclusion. Worth your time. Excellent.
You need to get through the first ~ 4 1/2 minutes to get to the punch line. And then, the punch line pops. And worth the wait. The video is shot in Vancouver and Whistler Mountain. Headphones recommended.
“The world is filled with noise. Make room for silence.”
4am bell. I work till 1pm. Late jump to beat Friday afternoon traffic. We’re rumbling down I-95. I rub my eyes. Not looking forward to a grueling 11-hour marathon. Eye lids are heavy and the horse ain’t out of the gate.
Two stop-and-go hours to get to New Jersey. Two hours to traverse 45 miles. Ominous start. I grit my teeth. Ten hours to go. Still ahead – – more construction zones. Friday rush hour through the Baltimore-D.C. corridor. Dodging testosterone-fired teens, drunks and white tail deer seeking warmth on the highway. Yes, rumbling down the Road to Perdition.
Pilot is Autonoman. Actions speak the Autonoman, not words.
Co-pilot (aka Susan) is governed by Words. Words. Words.
“I had the best poached eggs for breakfast.” I catch something about sliced avocados. Dash of salt and pepper.
“I spoke to Julia….” I catch words on Dinner. Next weekend. And apparently missed the follow-on question.
“Did you hear what I said?”
“You’d drive 11 hours without saying a word.”
Autonoman feels the glare to his right…the heat emanating from Words.
Just for a little while, stop thinking about all the problems, crises, tasks. everything that’s pulling and pushing on us. Be in that quiet space. After all these years, some of us still need permission to let go.
Image Credit: Nowandthan
“Leonardo Da Costa is a lighthouse keeper stationed in Cabo Polonio, a remote cape in a stretch of Uruguayan coastline rich in shipwrecks and sunken treasures. Cabo Polonio’s light has been guiding ships since 1881, and Da Costa is the latest in a long line of watchmen who have operated the tower with care and attention. He leads an unassuming life, the tranquility of the almost intact landscape keeping him company. Serenity and silence merge with the daily tasks and chores he carries out. Da Costa represents a rare profession that still survives in a few countries. Take some time to appreciate a gentle and enlightening way of life, for once it is gone, it will be missed.“
Good Sunday Morning…
Most days I cling to a single word.
It is a mild-mannered creature made of thought.
Future, or Past.
Never the other, obvious word.
Whenever I reach out to touch that one, it scurries away.
—Laura Kasischke, opening lines to “Riddle” from Space, in Chains
Laura Kasischke was awarded the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry for Space, In Chains. She is currently a Professor of English Language at the University of Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan (MFA 1987) and Columbia University.
The stone walkway may be 2.5 feet at its narrowest point. The shore line is 7-8 feet down from the walkway. It’s narrow, it is a ways down and I’m always wary. I must have been daydreaming. Or better stated, distracted by day-work-worrying.
I’m on my morning run.
My right forearm slams into the end of the steel I-beam guard rail. Here it comes. A car crash in slow motion. A Bruce Lee flick. With much less grace. The I-beam doesn’t move. But it moves me. It spins me around. Full Stop. Drop. Roll. Air explodes out of my chest. I’m gasping for air. More stunned than hurt. I’m down flat on my back for a few seconds, grateful that I didn’t plunge into the mud and frigid waters in the bay. I look around to see if anyone caught the show. No one is yelling “Man Down. Man Down.” We’re clear. Pride intact. [Read more…]
6:15 am. I finish up my blog posts. Finish bantering with Mimi. I pan through the Weather app on my iPhone for a temperature report on my set locations: Miami 61 F/78 F. Sunny. Sydney 67/81. San Diego 54/65. Home: 29 F/41 F. (Brrrrrrr. I shiver. Do I really want to do this? Maybe I should wait until later this afternoon when temps climb. Come on. Who are you kidding? If it doesn’t happen RIGHT NOW, it’s not going to happen pal…you know that.)
6:20 am: I put on sweatpants, sweatshirt and grab baseball cap. (Mind is chattering… should I drape myself in layers…thermal underwear and thermal undershirt…and Tuke/Beanie. Are you kidding? A mere 29°. A Canadian, last time I checked. Man-up.)
6:24 am: Grab headphones, iPhone and Garmin GPS watch. (Notice that I have 1 bar of power left on Garmin and 2 bars on iPhone. Irritated. Irritating. Hundreds of dollars of e-equipment and they can’t hold a charge for more than a few hours. Yep, good one – Gadget Man is blaming battery life. Be grateful. Thanksgiving. Day of Sabbath. And I’m sniping.) [Read more…]
This article by Tim Kreider, Quiet Ones, struck a cord with me. A few excerpts:
…it seems significant that we don’t want things to be quiet, ever, anymore. Stores and restaurants have their ubiquitous Muzak or satellite radio; bars have anywhere between 1 and 17 TVs blaring…ads and 30-second news cycles play on screens in cabs, elevators and restrooms. Even some libraries, whose professional shushers were once celebrated in cartoon and sitcom, now have music and special segregated areas designated for “quiet study,” which is what a library used to be.
…People are louder, too. They complain at length and in detail about their divorces or gallbladders a foot away from you in restaurants. A dreaded Amtrak type is the passenger who commences prattling on her cellphone the instant she sits down and doesn’t hang up until she gets to her stop, unable to bear an undistracted instant in her own company. People practice rap lyrics on the bus or the subway, barking doggerel along with their iPods as though they were alone in the shower. Respecting shared public space is becoming as quaintly archaic as tipping your hat to a lady, now that the concept of public space is as nearly extinct as hats, and ladies. [Read more…]
Let there be
into the quiet
that lies beneath
where you find
you did not think
and see what shimmers
within the storm.
~ Jan Richardson (excerpted from “Blessing in the Chaos”)
Jan Richardson is a writer, artist, United Methodist minister, workshop leader, conference speaker and director of a company called The Wellspring Studio, LLC, which serves as an umbrella for all the writer/artist/minister activities. Jan and her husband live in central Florida. Her site can be found at janrichardson.com.
“Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of ‘doing for the sake of doing.’ We must resist this temptation by trying ‘to be’ before trying ‘to do.’”
~ Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Inuente
You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait,
just learn to be quiet, still and solitary.
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
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