We all know how important it is to find silence in our lives, time and space to step back for a moment and put things in perspective. It keeps us from rash emotional responses and helps to make better decisions. It seems that discussions of the need for silence take the forefront at this time of year, during the season of Lent as we await (depending on your faith tradition) Easter, the spring season, and new life taking root after a cold winter.
I always had trouble with finding silence and have often struggled to grasp what this concept really means. I tend to live continually in my head. My wife gives me a hard time because of my selective memory. I remember some things crystal clear while others bring no recollection for me at all. The truth is, I am usually hearing so much noise in my head that at times there is simply no room to process anything else. I have always had a difficult time living in the moment. I am usually functioning in the moment but living in the regret of the past or the fear of the future.
People have found many ways to be in the moment; some healthy, like meditation or exercise; others not so healthy, like excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Either of these paths could lead to trouble in excess, I suppose. If working out begins to interfere with your daily life functioning, perhaps you have a problem. The point is that we have a basic drive to find ways to silence all the noise in our head so that we can live and thrive in the present moment, not worrying about tomorrow as it will have enough worries of its own. And not living under they oppression of past mistakes but rather allowing them to teach their lessons and then move on.
This all sounds remarkably similar to teachings I grew up with but didn’t make much sense to me. Didn’t Jesus talk about this? Also Buddha, I’m pretty sure. Maybe Muhammad as well?
I was on a hike with my dog Oliver yesterday in Gunpowder Falls State Park and I experienced what it feels like to be fully present in the moment. It was incredibly refreshing. As I stood on the bank of the river, slightly off the beaten path, I was fully consumed by listening to the sound of the river flowing over rocks, smelling the brisk winter air and feeling it invade my nostrils and brush harshly against my skin, admiring the way in which the water move so effortlessly over rocks and around turns. Nothing else mattered in that moment.
I found my silence.