Silence Is Not Quiet
On my recent trip to Oregon I experienced one of my all time favorite memories. It is kind of a long story, but I somehow managed, with the help of a new friend, to make my way an hour or so away from the city of Portland to the Oregon coast. We took off our shoes and walked up and down the coast, passing the famous Haystack Rock (a filming location of the movie The Goonies) and stopped to eat lunch on a piece or large driftwood. All I remember thinking the entire time was that I would somehow never forget this moment. It was one of those rare occasions where your life seemed so small and insignificant yet meaningful and important all at once. I stood ankle-deep in the cold Pacific and I watched as my feet began to sink in the sand when I wiggled my toes.
I also remember we didn’t talk much. We shared some words and some stories while eating lunch, but when we walked a mile or so down the coast we never really said anything. I think it was because sometimes life just speaks for itself.
I think I would have more moments like this if I would learn to be still and quiet every once in a while. I have realized that my life is very noisy at times, that there aren’t many moments where I can just be. Sometimes life seems to be a connect the dots race between one activity to the next; never giving me a chance to step back and see the lines I’m connecting. I often find myself in the middle of one event and my mind has already wandered into the next event.
I don’t keep a calendar for this very reason; I am too much of a free spirit to have structure. If I plan too much then I can never live and enjoy the present because I am already off into the future.
I have spent a lot of time in silence this week and a lot of time not answering phone calls and texts and emails. Instead, I have just existed in the here and now. I never realized how many birds there were in my neighborhood and I never realized how you could hear the breeze in the distance.
I forgot what it was like to get caught up in a good book, or what it feels like to drive slowly with the windows down. I forgot what it meant to enjoy a good burger and frosty beverage. I forgot what it was like to let life speak for itself.
On the beach that day, my friend Lindsey and I didn’t talk much about where our lives were going or how we both ended up there. We just breathed in the salty air and understood that we were there. We were sharing this beautiful moment. Even in moments of great achievement, people don’t brag much. Do you think once people climb to the top of a mountain they stand there and talk about their five-year plan? Do you think they roll off information about their 401k’s or even brag about how they just climbed a mountain? No. They just exist in the moment. They are silent. They take it all in. Whenever I ran my half-marathon last year, I don’t remember talking much afterwards because I was still trying to digest the spiritual experience I just had.
I encourage you to sit in silence soon. The weather, once again, is fantastic so go outside and just sit. Turn off your cell phone for a few hours and just enjoy what life is saying to you. You may not be on some beautiful shoreline or at the top of a mountain, but life is always trying to speak. The background noises of our lives have distorted its message, but the message is still being broadcast.
I remember specific noises from the day at the beach; the way the sand would crunch under your feet and how it squeaked when you kicked it just right; the sound of the waves mixing with the sound of the wind; the sound of my feet splashing in the water.
Slow down, friend.
Breathe a little slower and talk a little less, but say more.
It is possible to converse with creation, and while I am still trying to figure out how to communicate back, I am learning its language, and it has nothing to do with words.
So don’t be so quick to turn on your iPod, and don’t be so quick to turn on the television. Most people feel the need to fill the silence of their life because they are scared of what the silence will speak to them. It is in silence that our imaginations run wild and it is in noise that our brains are shut off. Silence is often the most important part of my day, it gives me a chance to think and to have inspiration and ides flow to my brain. Silence is anything but quiet, it is life speaking for itself.