on turning down the noise of life

Posted: May 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

One of the challenges of keeping my promise to write every day of this year is the requirement for silence, or at least quiet.  There was a time in my life when I had to have noise every minute that I was awake, whether it was music or television.  Just some kind of noise.  At the time I thought what I was craving was more brain stimulation.  In retrospect, I can see that what I craved was the “zoning out” effect all of that noise had on my racing thoughts and churning emotion.  Basically, media was my drug of choice. 

PBS (or, I THINK it was PBS) used to put out an annual challenge to turn the TV off for a week.  I hated the challenge, but I am easily convicted on those fronts, so pretty early on I started taking the challenge.  It was always a long, wretched week.  I had trouble falling asleep because I couldn’t listen to my TV while I dozed off.  The days were so LONG without my televisions going all day, in several rooms.  I didn’t like it.  But I tried to be faithful to it anyway. 

When I started getting serious about being a prayer warrior, that required a rather more regular turning off of the TV.  But I tended to fill the space with worship music.  Silence made me sleepy, mostly. 

Then I read Stephen King’s book “On Writing,” where he challenges would-be writers, saying that one must disengage from “the glass teat” in order to make room in one’s head and one’s schedule.  It was discouraging for me to read that.  Why couldn’t I sit on the couch, watching TV and writing something?  Why not?

If you’ve been around here awhile, you’ve probably already heard about how my son and I kicked TV out of our house as a mutual decision when he was in junior high.  That brought me great leaps and bounds.  But I still kept a lot of noise, with music and internet stuff. 

These days – more specifically, here in 2013, as I work daily to keep my promise to write daily – I find that noise is just not a luxury I can afford, much of the time.  I’m still a fiend for various NPR podcasts and a couple of shows, via internet, that make me laugh.  But they come few and far between.  If I come home from work and turn on the noise of them, words don’t come to me for the blog.  I can’t fill my head with all of that outside noise and then produce words on the page.  One of them has to go.  Since I’m keeping a promise, it’s the noise that i let go.  I spend more and more time just listening in the silence, when I am home alone.  Listening in prayer, or listening for what I might write next, or listening to the stuff working through my conscious mind. 

In a couple of weeks or so, I am moving in with friends.  I will be back in a family setting.  I am uber-excited about living in shared space again, about having someone to eat meals with, etc.  There is a long list of good stuff I’m gonna get from living with my friends.  I am realizing, as I ponder this silence thing, that I’m going to have to be more intentional about it.  It won’t “just happen,” in a family household.  I will have to MAKE it happen. And then, when I get married (in 99 days!!!!) I will be challenged to be even more deliberate yet, I imagine. 

THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT!  I am overjoyed at the changes happening in my life. 

I will just have to move to a new level of intentionality, if my promise to write every day of this year is going to be kept.

And I’m all about the keeping of promises!

  1. I’ve been exploring Silence + Solitude for the past several months. I love to listen to an audiobook or TED or NPR or even music when I am making my art, but I am also discovering the amazing gifts Silence adds to my writing.

    It’s more than anything an added bonus to my monk-ish Life, this Silence. Right Now I hear the squirrels jabbering and the birds, the trains, the sound of morning BEginning and the sun’s rising.

    intentionality is a powerful “drug” too. actually, kind of a miracle one!!

    enJOYing your explorations and how you turn your treasured bounty out to BE doubly deLIGHTed!!

  2. Totally hear you 🙂 regarding both the need and challenges of silence… appreciate your thoughts thx

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