Driving home from the market today, I sat at an intersection next to a mini-van with children in it. Certainly not that remarkable, I assure you...however, there were also tv screens. Three of them. Attached to the back of the seats in front, all three had a different program on....and three little heads had three sets of earbuds and while mom was chatting to whomever on her blue tooth, there was an air of....what? Peace? Not exactly. Isolation? Detachment?
Flashbacks of my childhood grocery days...my sisters and I rattling on, joking...laughing. (to the point that my mother actually used to PAY us a quarter if we could be quiet the whole way home--cheeky thing) But none the less, there was a curious satisfying mingling....ideas and thoughts and...life. Family.
I turned the corner and headed home. Parking I noticed the neighbor cutting his lawn...i-pod attached. A couple walked by, pushing a stroller with a toddler...she was on her cell phone, he was messing with a black berry and the toddler? Had some kind of hand-held game that was maniacally beeping and buzzing to his obvious delight. I walked inside the house, dropping keys on the entry table. Kicking my shoes under the bench I made my way to the kitchen with my culinary loot. The window was open...a breeze tickled the back of my neck as I slid the onions into their basket, nestled peaches and plums together in the bowl....packed away the eggs and cheese and milk. I could hear the birds in the backyard...a distant dog barking...and leaning against the counter, I just closed my eyes and smiled. You know that feeling? So good to be home.
Dinner begun, slicing bacon and onions, the sizzle in the pan...delicious aromas filled the room and I thought about my day. What I'd said, whom I met....and it suddenly occurred to me, "I wonder if that couple thinks....through the noise."
The incessant blur that is our technological revolution. It's a barrage...an attack on the senses and the mind as we rise each day. The "convenience" we demand: portable everything. Music everywhere we go--cellphones and crackberries and games--oh, the holiest of grails: entertainment. Heaven forbid you actually might have to wait in line at the post office without having a game to play.
And I wonder....
Could we design a study....concoct a thesis....could there really be a correlation between the moral disintegration of our society, the eroding of our families.....and the simple lack of quiet.
In the quiet, there is only you. In the quiet.....there your actions are to be faced. Decisions made in haste are rethought...apologies composed as you hear your own angry words reverberating in your mind. In the quiet, goals are set. Dreams are discovered, plans made...ideas go from mere wisps to full-fledged intentions.
The quiet is not always comfortable. It holds ghosts...mistakes. But it is within this very discomfort that we surpass the animal world--where our humanness thrives--where we become....more.
There was a time, when going for a walk meant thinking about your day, not sifting through the latest playlist. When we mowed our lawns or planted our gardens...we examined our lives. Have we lost this in the endless quest for entertainment and distraction? Can we not ride the bus and actually have a pleasant conversation with a stranger? Must we all be surrounded by a wall...a distance created by cords and headphones.
Are we "entertaining" ourselves into isolation? And in this individual plastic creation--are we becoming so self-centered, so absolutely used to having it "our way"--that the slightest detour from this--the inconvenience of another's schedule, wishes, taste in music for goodness sakes! becomes an intrusion?
Some of the greatest moments of my life, the beginnings of glorious love and friendships and joy...were inconveniences and interruptions.
The greatest epiphanies in my heart--both blissful and agonizing--occurred in the quiet.
Today....tonight, on your commute, on your walk...turn off the noise. Unplug. Just listen. Listen to your heart, the voice of your soul....you may be wonderfully surprised by what it has to say.
Three Letters To Grace
5 days ago