For the last two weeks, I’ve actively been choosing to spend time in silence.
When I’m on a streetcar, when I’m walking down the street, when I’m waiting for the bus; I put away my headphones and turn off my phone or iPod.
I do this because I feel like I need to give my brain some breathing room. If I’m constantly subjecting it to a non-stop stream of noise and information, when will I ever just think?
If I’m consistently detaching myself from my environment, when will I ever see and hear what’s new to discover?
It’s interesting to me how active this choice has to be. It seems it’s more natural for me to plug myself in, than to just stand, sit or walk. It’s like I can’t commute without a soundtrack. I’ve lost the ability to just be alone with my thoughts. And I find that to be a terrifying.
Thinking, pondering, reflecting… all of those are vital to the idea-generating process I so desperately need to fuel my writing career.
So, I’m actively choosing to be still — to give those quirky ideas the space to float into my brain where they can hatch into something new.
I’m lucky enough to work at a job where I have the liberty of checking my cell phone every now and then. When it’s really quiet and there’s nothing to do, I’ll text someone I haven’t talked to in a while.
This is a very strange way to go about my day. Technology has given us the ability to be in more than one place at once. This is not a new idea. But it led me to think about what I would be doing with in those moments that I was texting someone if I didn’t have a phone. Would I make more of an effort to talk to my co-worker? Would I clean up around the store more?
And what would happen to those relationships that have largely been supported through text? I guess those relationships would disappear once we stopped sharing a common time and space.
The scariest thing about that thought is that I struggle to think back to time when I didn’t have a phone. What did I do? I can only picture myself in silence, not really doing anything different at all. If that’s true, I guess technology has only added to my life. But part of me is haunted by what I could have missed in those moments of silence.
Do you remember what it was like?