In 21st century America, quietness is a lost art. No matter where you go there is “noise” of some kind. You can’t walk into a store without music playing. You can’t enjoy a meal in a restaurant without some kind of background noise. We have stereos in our cars that play the radio, podcasts, or our favorite musical artists. Most of the time I enjoy all of those things. I think good music can make a restaurant, retail outlet, or coffee shop. I listen to music and podcasts in my car all the time.
However, Monday is a day of quietness for me. It happens to be my “day off.” As a pastor I work most every other day of the week. And, truth, be told, I often do at least a little bit of “work” on Mondays, as well. But most of the time I do it in the quietness of my own home.
It may be a surprise to some, but I do have some introverted tendencies. That’s why I thoroughly enjoy Mondays as a time to get in a bike ride, do some writing, run some errands all by myself, and generally enjoy the quietness. Though I love my wife very much, while she’s away at work on Mondays, those few hours of solitude are just what I need most every week to recharge my batteries. Introversion isn’t about being shy, it’s about the source of your energy. Extroverts are energized by being in a crowd. Introverts are energized by enjoying some time of quietness and solitude.
Already back in 1985, Neil Postman wrote the book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. He makes the point that the influence of entertainment has been a detriment to politics, journalism, education, and even religion. Many people find it difficult today to be silent for any time at all, let alone a whole day. We love to be amused by our screens, the noise that fills our ears, and the general background rumble that helps us through the day. Quietness is a lost art.
But I would argue that every once in a while quietness is a good thing for everyone. Quietness helps me in the following ways:
- It helps me remain in touch with my inner self. Without noise of any kind I have the opportunity to pay attention to my thoughts, to set goals for the coming week, to think through problems or issues I may be facing at work, and to remember once again who I am as an individual.
- It helps me remain on task. Since Monday is a big writing day for me, the silence helps me focus on the topic at hand. I get to delve into the deepest places of my soul to find the words I’m looking to put on the page. I don’t have the distractions of TV or music that takes me away from my train of thought.
- It helps me remain centered. All the “noise” that influences me throughout the week can take its toll, put me off kilter, or leave me in a place I’d rather not be. Devotional time, quiet time, solitary exercise, writing down my thoughts, and simply doing some rather mundane tasks help me to remain centered and balanced.
I’d encourage you to practice the art of quietness. It may be a lost art, but it doesn’t have to be lost on you. Do your best to practice at least one period of quietness every week. It will bring you the benefit of a better week, a better demeanor, more thoughtful decisions and solutions, and a more peaceful self.
How do you practice the art of quietness, and what benefits does it bring to you?