“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
It is quiet. Very quiet. My oldest daughter’s household of eight are on a family trip to England and Ireland. My wife Carol and her brother are in North Carolina. My youngest daughter’s two sons start school today, which comes earlier than my oldest daughter’s children who are on the overseas trip. No noise in an empty house. Our family pet, River, an Australian Labradoodle, is home with me, resting comfortably on the couch.
What will I do for a week with all this silence?
After all, when is the last time there was complete silence upon waking, followed by complete silence throughout the day? Far and few days like this. What about a whole week? Perhaps, this has never happened. If so, too far back to remember. Wow! A week to celebrate. No obligations or responsibilities. Yippee!
Wait a minute. What am I going to do with a whole week? Hmm. I better look at my calendar and arrange some meetings. Optimist Club meeting is held on Wednesday and Rotary on Thursday. I will have some conversations with association members during those gatherings. Each meeting will consume 60 to 90 minutes. That takes care of three hours. And then what? What about the rest of the time?
Back at home, it is just River and me. What shall I do? I can write. Finish the editing process on my second book. Write multiple blogs, like this one, getting ahead on my newsletter schedule. I can organize my quiet week. Maybe, create some noise. Thank goodness, I have the noisiest instrument ever created, my Smartphone.
The truth is that most of us have only a small amount of quiet time in our lives. What I call true peace. When there is complete silence. We attend meetings. Family and friends are often nearby. We interact with pets, like River. Interruptions are often. And everything in our lives is connected in some way or another to our cellular phones. We cannot get away from these electronic devices and all the myriad apps that demand our attention. We live in a noisy world.
The problem? We do not want to get away from these devices connecting us to the outside. Do we? How many of us, upon rising, immediately look at our phones for text messages or emails that we ‘must’ read before breakfast, shower or even before that first cup of coffee?! How many people look at their phones during conversations with others? I have written numerous articles about the potential dangers lurking within our electronic world. I will continue to write about this critical subject.
While I appreciate the efficiency of my word document and the support it provides for writing this newsletter, I understand that an all-electronic world is also perilous. This year, I converted my personal journal from an electronic form to paper. After more than a decade of electronic journaling, this is a big deal. I turn off my phone when family gathers. I no longer carry it everywhere with me while at home – it is actually okay to leave it in another room. I do not always instantly respond when someone calls, or sends text or email messages to me.
My effort continues to be a work in progress – progress that I can actually see. One example was recently when I went to church and left my phone behind by accident. I did not miss it until almost arriving at church. The seemingly unconscious act of leaving my phone behind is a direct result of purposely limiting attention to that device. A good trend in my life. What is your phone use like? Do you need to reexamine this element of activity?
Many of us are, unfortunately, controlled by our phones. Numerous studies, some which I have featured in previous editions of this newsletter, identify proven risks to humanity. And, it is not pretty.
Back at home after church, it is quiet. Huge opportunities abound. This week, I can reacquaint myself with all things that exist without the need for a phone. Such as a true relationship with folks at Optimist and Rotary. I have already scheduled a meeting with someone at the Optimist Club that may run past the 60 minutes of our meeting. An opportunity? Perhaps. More time without looking at the small hand-held screen is a possible result.
At home, there is increased amounts of time for other activities. Reflection and prayer. River has settled in, too. Somehow, he seems to understand that this week is different. We will find some silence.
During rare quiet moments from busy, daily demands, we discover what is truly sacred. I think about my family and how important they are to me. I think about my wife Carol and our relationship. I think about my spiritual journey. I think about the goals I want to achieve in the next three years. I think. Yes, that is the point. I am spending more time thinking, which is a great success principle. The most underutilized principle in organizations and families. Think. A good atmosphere for making this happen is an expanse in quietness. And that means to put away the Smartphones and iPhones when possible.The most important success principle in our new age is right before us.
Put away the phone. Replace it with thinking.
In the distant past, there was no cell phone option. We did more thinking. There was no competition for our time from automated contraptions. Today, part of our thinking is actually handled by apps on our portable phones. Someone correctly titled these devices as human ‘appendages.’
It is only Wednesday. I still have a few more days of peace.
Next week, I live a normal life. Normal? Perhaps, the better word is, common or usual. And, that means noisy. Very noisy. My Smartphone . . .
Today, I have silence. I choose to think.