Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Being Very, Very Quiet

It's quiet (again), it's late (again) and I'm sitting in front of the computer already a little bit sleepy but ready to write. The way things are going, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Bill Murray was ready to run into my room shouting "Groundhog Day!" It amazes me that in the midst of full-to-near-frantic days, the nights (once home) are so much the same.

There is a comfort in this routine that I don't mind at all. I am enjoying the still of the night, and finding it more and more important as an antidote to the pace of an over-stimulated day. Tranquility is not offered as a benefit in any job that I have, formal or otherwise, so I must create my own whenever I can.

I used to hate quiet. For some tasks it still doesn't work for me at all. The thought of meditating was completely foreign to me, not to mention a little scary.  I'm still not ready to go sit in the lotus position for an hour listening to my breathing and contemplating my navel, but I think that in my daily routine I'm moving closer to the quiet every single day.

Part of that simply has to do with being tired of being told what to do, all day, every day. Since my employers (like most, I would imagine) are demanding, and my teenager has a doctorate in the subject, the last thing I want to do when I come home is to have the television tell me when to laugh, when to cry, what to watch, and what to buy. I'm good at figuring out jokes, I'll cry when I want to, I'm far pickier than any television executive in the history of EVER, and finally, I hate pushy salespeople to the point that I've been know to mutter on the loudish side, "dial it down Poindexter" when the hard sell crosses my very limited line of tolerance.

They say "silence is golden" and if it's not, then it is at the very a valuable commodity worth cherishing and hoarding. It allows me to have my own thoughts and opinions. It allows me to process the day nearly completed and ponder the days ahead, all without someone pestering me to buy a new computer, holiday sweaters or cellphone plans.

At Christmas we always sing "Silent Night" and it comes at the end of the service, when all the gathered are truly silent. Lights are dimmed and individual candles are lit in such a way that it looks like a scene out of a picture book. But that night in Bethlehem, was it really silent? There was confusion at the inn and there was no room. Did Mary and Joseph sit there silently? I think not. There had to have been discussions and bargaining, begging and pleading until they agreed upon the manger. And once in the manger, was that silent? How could it be? All sorts of animals were sheltered there. Despite the freeze-framed picture we carry around in our heads of a silent tableaux of adoring farm animals and a tiny baby in a bed of straw, there had to have been noise. Giving birth? Shepherds showing up talking about angels?  There had to have been some commotion. I can only imagine that when the wise men finally arrived, Mary might have been praying for them to bring her a couple hours of peace and quiet.

There can be loneliness in silence, but there is also contentment and strength as well.  It can be a big step to turn off, shut down or otherwise ignore those external forces that like to dictate the who, what, where, why and how of our everyday existence.  I'm open to suggestions, but on my terms only.  There are a lot of things that I am learning I do not need, but silence and the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts is quickly becoming a non-negotiable.

Forget the myrrh.  Please just bring a muzzle.

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