When I was a kid, normally the radio or TV was on. So, there was almost always some sort of artificial background noise being piped in. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mind was trying to filter it out, so it could hear what the rest of the universe was saying.
At some point, the background noise started bugging me. To avoid it, I turned off the radio or TV, if I was alone at home. If somebody else was listening to it, then I would go to another room or go outside. Over time, my mind started enjoying the sounds of silence and of nature more than it enjoyed the artificial ones.
Then, I met my high school English teacher, Mrs. Mervine. She made us keep track of all our minutes in the week and how we used them. At first, it was a daunting task to keep track of them, annotate what we did, and then to reflect on our time, each week.
One of her reasons for making us do that was for us to see how we were using our time wisely or wasting it. Another reason was for us to see how much time we were ever quiet, by ourselves. At the beginning of the year, most kids in class counted very little time when they were quiet – and some just outright refused to do it. Others of us were further along that path.
Up ‘til then, it felt like I had been searching in the dark, trying to understand how my mind was changing and how my perspective was growing. But, when she said, “Most people are afraid to be quiet and by themselves, because they don’t like themselves – because they’re afraid of what they’ll hear,” it clicked, and it changed my perspective forever. That moment happened thirty years ago, but it’s still just as clear today, as it was then.
For me, her statement was true – and by the looks of others in the room, it was true for them, too. It was so cool to have conversations with my friends that week about our minds, about inner thoughts, and about the inner workings of how we reacted to our thoughts. We felt like we had been given the keys to a secret room inside ourselves. Suddenly, we weren’t just a bunch of teenagers bumping into things in the dark, anymore. We understood, and we understood better how our minds worked. Since then, a few of us have continued trying to improve the level of understanding we have about ourselves, each other, and the minds of others.
So, where are you in all of this? Do you like the quiet, or do you run from it? Do you like your thoughts? Are you comfortable with yourself?
Think about it. You’ll find the peace.
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