I came across an interview with Gordon Hempton, (who I will have to admit, I had never heard of until now), and loved every word he was saying in the discourse-things like…“Silence is not a luxury, but it is essential.”
Particularly today….the issue of silence and quietness is top on my mind. The roofers are here taking off and putting on shingles. I have begun to notice that there is a pattern to laying shingles…it goes: “Rat-tat-tat-tat (3 second pause) tat-tat.”
I was told it is good to hear so many “tats” because that is the number of nails being hammered in (per shingle) to hold it in place. Four is acceptable…six even better.
After listening to this pattern for awhile I have found myself typing to the same beat on the computer keys…”rat-tat-tat-tat…tat-tat.” (I must admit, however, I am beginning to crave my quiet little computer room again….it is harder to get “in the zone” with hammers pounding overhead.)
In one story…Hempton told about his life course change and how it pertained to silence in a very important “aha” moment he encountered on his way to graduate school.
I grew up thinking that I was a listener except on my way to graduate school one time, I simply pulled over making the long drive from Seattle, Washington, to Madison, Wisconsin, pulled over in a field to get some rest and a thunderstorm rolled over me.
While I lay there and the thunder echoed through the valley and I could hear the crickets, I just simply took it all in. And it’s then I realized that I had a whole wrong impression of what it meant to actually listen. I thought that listening meant focusing my attention on what was important even before I had heard it and screening out everything that was unimportant even before I had heard it
In other words, I had been paying a lot of attention to people, but I really hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to what is all around me. It was on that day that I really discovered what it means to be alive as another animal in a natural place. That changed my life.
I had one question and that was how could I be 27 years old and have never truly listened before? I knew, for me, I was living life incredibly wrong, so I abandoned all my plans, I dropped out of graduate school, I moved to Seattle, took my day job as a bike messenger and only had one goal, and that was to become a better listener.
His epiphany hit home to me…aren’t we all guilty of only half-listening in conversations while the other half is busy already creating a response to the speaker? And like yesterday, when we talked about turning around to enjoy more of God’s beautiful world…if we are listening intently to one person ( as we were taught in school to do) aren’t we missing out on the sounds of the world passing us by?
Hempton (a coustic ecologist) says that “silence is becoming an endangered species…almost extinct” and that Earth has become a “solar-powered jukebox.”
He defines real quiet as presence- not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise.
…”I think a physicist will tell you that true silence does not exist, not on planet Earth with an atmosphere and oceans. When I speak of silence, I often use it synonymously with quiet.
I mean silence from modern life, silence from all these sounds that have nothing to do with the natural acoustic system, which is busy communicating.” (like wildlife and different wind sounds going through different type of leaves and needles.)
It is getting harder and harder to find a quiet interlude during the day or night. Sometimes…even early in the morning…I hear garbage trucks off in the distance or late in the evening…music from parties at the club. There is nothing wrong with these sounds…I actually enjoy listening to the music…but, once again, it proves how hard it is to find total silence in our society any more.
Maybe that is the reason we, unconsciously, crave it (silence) so badly. (like right now!)
In Hempton’s lifetime quest to find the quietest places on earth he has, also, discovered his own spirituality…his soul along the journey. “Quiet is a think tank for the soul.”
Here is a link to the top ten quietest places in America to visit.
So until tomorrow…let us spend as much time finding our personal quiet places as we do looking for a new home. Everyone needs a daily dose of “silence.”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
Flowers are my “think tanks to the soul”