Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Be Quiet

I have an old Toyota Corolla as a second car. Used to have a radio/tape player in it, but it got stolen. Didn’t bother me much. Sometimes I listen to what circumstances have to say, and like most of us, sometimes I don’t. But this time I did, and circumstances were saying ‘maybe a little quiet would be a good thing’. Lately I’ve been thinking about quiet. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. How little of it we actually have in our world. It gets to the point sometimes that when we do find ourselves with a momentary lapse of sound we quickly find a way to fill the silence with more sound. It’s what we’re used to. And the more used to it we get the more uncomfortable we become with silence.

I’m a musician. I’ve always liked to listen to music. I find it motivating and inspirational. It makes me feel good. Even sad music makes me feel good. Most of my life I’ve had music on in my environment. I’m also a thinker. I like to think. And I like to listen to reports, comments and opinions that make me think, that provoke me to form my own opinions, to come to my own conclusions. I think about everything. I even think about thinking. What is thinking, really? We do it automatically, accidentally even, but very seldom do we do it deliberately.

I listen to talk radio in the car sometimes. Sports and political shows, community programs, social commentary, even some religious stuff. Provokes thought, some of it. Of course, some of it is just garbage. Got to think it through to know that. But some of it you just know. If it smells bad it’s probably garbage. Anyway, the point is that the radio is additional sound in an already deafening environment. It’s more clutter. It may be intellectual clutter that serves a purpose, but it’s still clutter. When we’re not careful, it can think for us. And it can keep us from hearing. It can inhibit our ability to hear the still small voice within us, the sound of our own understanding, the conscience of our inner self.

We get so inundated with sound that we lose, not only the ability, but often, even the inclination, to hear. When that happens we lose a big part of ourselves. How can I ever really know myself if I never have a good quiet conversation with myself? In observing the condition of the world these days, I think it’s a conversation we ought to be having on a regular basis. Many of us are terrified of the prospect. We make sure we have auditory distraction day and night. Rather that having meaningful discourse with others, we even find ourselves parroting useless information, and wielding words like a shield of sound, rather than as a means of connection.

I like to drive my Jeep much more than the Toyota. But in the Jeep it’s hard not to turn the radio on. Seems to kind of turn itself on at times.
Sometimes I drive the Toyota specifically because I never replaced the radio after it was stolen. It affords me a built-in quiet time. It’s funny how many of the important decisions I’ve made over the past few years have been arrived at while driving that car. While being quiet. While listening.

Somewhere in the Bible it says “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Certainly couldn’t hurt.