“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, ” advised the anonymous soul who penned the transcendent Desiderata, “and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
Indeed. Certainly it’s hard to stay connected to that home truth, however, inside the furious hubbub of a modern day, but it’s worth the effort. The power of silence is nothing short of extraordinary.
From the piercing bleat of an alarm clock through the wailing sirens that crack the overnight, our daily soundscapes are thunderous ones. Add to that the significant fabric shrieking technology has added to our lives, and there is almost no aural respite at all.
Recently, the Royal British Legion sought to reintroduce the alternative with a single called “2 Minute Silence.” Quite literally two minutes of stillness, this fundraising effort seeks to remind the world of the value of saying nothing at all. Its silent-download release was accompanied by a video featuring noiseless contributions from a host of celebrities.
It’s not surprising that we’re all so loud. Long removed from any meaningful exposure to the merits of the collective contemplation and fresh perspective that spring from quiet, contemporary society has grown comfortable with cacophony.
Moreover, folks have learned to feel anxious or even suspicious inside environments of imposed silence. Silence unnerves people. If you value quiet, you obviously want to be alone. And loneliness is as ugly a state as there is.
Add to this a reality in which internal noise rages more loudly than ever. Thanks to the endless barrage of stimulation to which we’re regularly subjected, the myriad demands that tug at our attention over the course of any given day, we exist in an environment of internal clamor—whether we want to or not. That cannot be good, either.
Because what’s ultimately at stake, thanks to this deafening combination of inner and outer racket? Nothing less than our own tenuous grasp of our own authentic spirits. In the absence of the quiet time that might facilitate a journey back to these critical versions of self, we swirl in the dissonance, and lose a very precious sense of what really matters.
And so listen up. Time spent in noisy commotion is not always best spent, and relationships with others are not the only path to feeling good. Periods of solitude are every bit as valuable to our own personal development, and the silence that characterizes that state is a legitimate means to achieving consequential spiritual contentment.
Making room in our lives for silence has to be a conscious effort. We must somehow—occasionally—simply extinguish the barrage of inside and outside clatter, clambering for our attention, must insist on the stretches of silence that will deliver us back to a place of calm. As much as a slew of circumstances might necessitate our continued existence in a noisy, fractious land, we are still capable of yanking ourselves into a place where our minds can go still.
And we should. It is only in silence, after all, that we can be fully attentive to who we really are.