“… to read, we need a certain kind of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. That seems increasingly elusive in our overnetworked society, where every buzz and rumor is instantly blogged and tweeted, and it is not contemplation we desire but an odd sort of distraction, distraction masquerading as being in the know. In such a landscape, knowledge can’t help but fall prey to illusion, albeit an illusion that is deeply seductive, with its promise that speed can lead us to more illumination, that it is more important to react than to think deeply, that something must be attached to every bit of time. Here, we have my reading problem in a nutshell, for books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down.”
- David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading
Above Beachy Head in East Sussex, England.
“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.”
- Read full article: This is Your Brain on Silence
- Link for most popular page on VisitFinland.com: “Silence, Please“
- Photograph by Robin Baumgarten in Oulu, Finland
After a long absence,
I put on a record of Bach,
inhale the fragrant earth in the garden,
I think again of poems and novels to be written
and I return to the silence of the morning rain.
— Pier Paolo Pasolini
“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)
From Kate Murphy, NY Times, No Time to Think:
ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.
And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device.
Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.
It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.
It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.
Read full article by Kate Murphy in NY Times: No Time To Think
Image Source: Sh*t In My Head
↓ click for audio (Linda Ronstadt – “Blue Bayou”)
Something is off. Life passes and we do not recognize it. The past streams through us like molecules we can’t perceive…They are not so much remembered as resurrected in us, little stitches of ordinary time that suddenly —a prick in the existential skin, a little dot of Being’s blood— aren’t. Is it merely certain temperaments—inclined to solitude and absence, feasting on distances —that are at once susceptible to these little epiphanies and yet slow to recognize them for what they are? Or is it a symptom of the times— distracted, busy, forward-rushing— that we are in? Or a symptom of time itself as we have come to understand it:
We have constructed an environment in which we live a uniform, univocal secular time, which we try to measure and control in order to get things done. This “time frame” deserves, perhaps more than any other facet of modernity, Weber’s famous description of a “stahlhartes Gehäuse” (iron cage).
—Charles Taylor, A Secular Age
~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)
I should be able to recall:
these words all begin with silence.
— Laura Glen Louis, from “M”
Frank Bruni, NY Times: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:
- …Take more time away. Spend more time alone. Trade the speechifying for solitude, which no longer gets anything close to the veneration it’s due, not just in politics but across many walks of life.
- It’s in solitude that much of the sharpest thinking is done and many of the best ideas are hatched. We know this intuitively and from experience, yet solitude is often cast as an archaic luxury and indulgent oddity, inferior to a spirited discussion and certainly to a leadership conference…”
- The calendar of a senior executive or public official is defined by meeting after meeting upon meeting. There’s no comparable premium on solitary pauses, on impregnable periods for contemplation, and a person who insists on them attracts a derogatory vocabulary: loner, loafer, recluse, aloof, eccentric, withdrawn.
- “We live in the new groupthink — there’s a shared belief that creativity and productivity must be a collaborative experience, and solitude has fallen out of fashion,” Susan Cain, the author of the 2012 best seller “Quiet,” told me. But, she added, “There’s so much research that flies in the face of this.”
- Cain’s book focuses on introverts, making the case that they have a kind of intellectual advantage. And their edge stems largely from greater amounts of solitude, from the degree to which they’ve swapped motion for stillness, chatter for calm. They’ve carved out space for reflection that’s sustained and deep.
- This isn’t necessarily a matter of being unplugged, of ditching the hyper-connectedness of our digital lives. It’s a matter of ditching and silencing the crowd…
Read Bruni’s worthy full article here: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:
One needs a place (or so I find) where one can spiritually dig oneself in. The weather here has changed to heavy rolling mists and thick soft rain. The mountains disappear very beautifully, one by one. The lake has become grave and one feels the silence. This, instead of being depressing as it is in the South, has a sober charm. In the South there is too much light whereas exquisitely breathtaking fog is all I care about. This grass, too, waving high, with one o’clocks like bubbles and flowering fruit trees like branches of red and white coral. One looks and one becomes absorbed … Do you know what I mean? I feel, at present, I should like to have a small chalet, high up somewhere, and live there for a round year, luxuriating in solitude and harmony.
—Katherine Mansfield, from a letter dated 9 May 1921, The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield: Volume Four, 1920-1921
- More from Katherine Mansfield: It’s so easy to forget to attend to these miracles
- Credits: Poem – Thank you rudyoldeschulte. Photograph via squishly
- Katherine Mansfield Bio
There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.
— Beryl Markham, West with the Night
Beryl Markham (1902 – 1986) was a British-born Kenyan author, aviator, adventurer, and racehorse trainer. During the pioneer days of aviation, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. She is now primarily remembered as the author of the memoir West with the Night – – The Book Summary from Amazon: [Read more...]
In truth, the dramatics of a life-determining experience are often unbelievably soft. It has so little akin to the bang, the flash, or the volcanic eruption that, at the moment it is made, the experience is often not even noticed. When it deploys its revolutionary effect and plunges a life into a brand-new light giving it a brand-new melody, it does that silently and in this wonderful silence resides its special nobility.
~ Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel
There’s no solace
above or below.
Only us —
battling one another.
I pray to myself,
~ House of Cards, 1×12.
A good book
Pandora on loop
A Snow Day
Wood cackling in fireplace
Dog wagging tail
Pancakes with maple syrup
Tomato Soup and Grill Cheese
Hot chocolate with marshmallows
Piping hot chicken noodle soup
Hot Tea with honey
An unexpected call from a friend
Softness of skin after shaving
Hot apple cider
Long afternoon nap
Warm tropical winds
Poetry I understand
Poetry about spring
I find my only real joy in solitude.
Solitude is my castle.
That’s where I have
my breeze and
— Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon, 1992)
Jean-Claude Lauzon (1953 – 1997) was a Canadian filmmaker. Born to a humble family in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Lauzon worked a variety of odd jobs after dropping out of high school. He went on to study film at the Université du Québec à Montréal at the behest of Andre Petrowski, a member of the National Film Board of Canada. His two feature length films, Un zoo la nuit, and Léolo, established him as one of the most important Canadian directors of his time. He was preparing his third film when he died, along with his girlfriend, Canadian actress Marie-Soleil Tougas, in a plane crash. On August 10, 1997, the Cessna 180K he was piloting flew into a mountainside in strong winds and rain near Kuujjuaq, Quebec while returning from a fishing trip. His film Léolo was nominated at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival for the Golden Palm Award, and is listed as one of Time’s All-TIME 100 Movies.
- Quote source link. Bio Source: Wiki
- Thank you Maralee for her photograph. Here’s her description of the photo: “This was the view from my room at the agriturismo that I stayed at when we were in Italy. I couldn’t get enough of that gorgeous Tuscan light.” I couldn’t get enough of that light either. I’ve not been to Tuscany but this photo inspires me to do so. Check out Maralee’s blog here.
The poem “Solitude” was written in 1983 by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an American Author and poet (1850-1919). It was her most enduring work. The inspiration for the poem came as she was traveling to attend the Governor’s inaugural ball in Madison, Wisconsin. On her way to the celebration, there was a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. The woman was crying. Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she could barely attend the scheduled festivities. As she looked at her own radiant face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of “Solitude“: [Read more...]
“I’d like to answer all my phone calls, return all emails in a timely manner and mean the how-are-yous; not hide my broken hallelujahs, not save my gratitude for characters in books. Put love on sale, like I should…I’d like to whisper to only a few souls under a blanket instead of shouting at hundreds over these virtual rooftops. I’d like to inhale people and exhale skin, explore huggability and memorize the art of breathing…I’d like to get up once a week with no other agenda than laziness in bed, no time, no musts or shoulds or have tos. Eat breakfast for dinner, juice for lunch, and talk to trees, and cry, walk backwards, love my solitude, and understand my doing by undoing.”
~ Andréa Balt
- Source: Thank you Make Believe Boutique
- Read more by Andréa Balt: 30 Questions
- Find Andréa Balt on Facebook
“This inner silence which accompanies me is born of the slow stride which leads from one day to another. What more can I long for than this room opening out on to the plain, with its antique furniture and its crocheted lace? I have the whole sky on my face, and feel that I could follow these slow, turning days forever, spinning motionlessly with them. I breathe in the only happiness I can attain—an attentive and friendly awareness.
I spend the whole day walking about: from the hill, I go down to Vicenza or else farther into the country. Every person I meet, every scent on this street, is a pretext for my measureless love … all are props for the person who can no longer be alone. But the tender and bitter piping of the grasshoppers, the perfume of water and stars that you meet in the September nights, the scented paths among the lentisks and rose bushes, all are signs of love for the person forced to be alone. Thus the days pass. After the dazzling glare of the sun-filled days, evening comes, in the splendid décor offered by the gold of the setting sun and the black of the cypress-trees. I then walk along the road, toward the crickets that can be heard far away. As I advance, they begin one by one to sing more softly, and then fall silent. I walk slowly forward, weighed down by so much ardent beauty.”
—Albert Camus, from “Lyrical and Critical,” Betwixt and Between (1937)
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
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.
After chores were done, Saturdays were for fishing. Not fly fishing but rod, reel and bait fishing on the Columbia or Kootenay Rivers. This one minute clip rolled the memories back. Whether you fish or not, this clip puts you in the driver’s seat of the magic. The solitude. The oneness with nature. Here’s “Stream of Dreams.”
Source: ThomasandThomas.com – Tangled Lines
“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…
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.
Solitude, Mobile Hotel Room, Andalsnes, Norway
“As soon as we are alone…inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”
It has a sound, a fullness.
It’s heavy with sigh of tree,
and space between breaths.
It’s ripe with pause between birdsong
and crash of surf.
It’s golden they say.
But no one tells us it’s addictive.”
~ Angela Long