It’s much quieter in our big cities right now. You can hear birds sing in Times Square.
And though, in some ways, the world seems so noisy today, for many of us, our daily routine probably feels quieter. For one thing—no hectic commute!
It’s made me think again about the value of quiet to our lives. On the wall of my office is a copy of Desiderata by Max Ehrman. It begins with these words:
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
What is it like to go placidly, go gently, go peacefully through our days? How do we stay in touch with the peace that may be in silence? And how can that silence enhance our experience of daily life?
These days, I try to intentionally have a few moments of quiet each day—moments when I turn off all the noise—not only the noise of TV and work but (and this is the hard part) the noise in my head.
There are many ways to go with a moment of quiet: being in nature, watching the sunrise, meditating, praying. Just being still.
I sometimes use it to experience anew what an incredible thing it is just to have a life and be a human being—even with all of the failures and successes, all the joys and disappointments. I quietly accept them all. I think about what an amazing thing it is to be unique—to be the only “me” there has ever been or ever will be. I think about all the people in my life, each with his or her unique story.
In her book entitled Quiet, Susan Cain writes about the accomplishments of some of history’s quiet people:
“Some of our greatest ideas, arts and inventions … came from quiet … people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there. Neither the theory of relativity nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal.”
Well, chances are, most of us are not going to come up with something like Paradise Lost. But we do all have treasures inside.
I have come to believe that cultivating a rich center of quiet—a quiet that is a warm, friendly place where we feel at home—is vital for creating that precious work of art called a life. It can stay in us and keep us grounded as we face the noise and haste.
We may even discover, in the quiet, a kind of paradise found.