On my last day off, I found myself awake early. Very early. The sun was barely over the horizon, my wife was sound asleep, and I had no where to go. For the first time in a long time, I was surrounded by quiet.
I’ve been on the meditation bandwagon for years. One of the most common statements I hear from people who don’t want to meditate is “the quiet makes me nervous.” Every time I hear someone say that, I think of this quote from writer Douglas Adams.
The Belcerebon people used to cause great resentment and insecurity among neighboring races by being one of the most enlightened, accomplished, and above all, quiet civilizations in the Galaxy. As a punishment for this behavior, which was held to be offensively self-righteous and provocative, a Galactic Tribunal inflicted on them that most cruel of all social diseases, telepathy. Consequently, in order to prevent themselves broadcasting every slightest thought that crosses their minds to anyone within a five mile radius, they now have to talk very loudly and continuously about the weather, their little aches and pains, the match this afternoon and what a noisy place Kakrafoon has suddenly become.Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Like the Belcerebons, most of us will do anything not to have to hear our own thoughts. We clutter our lives with screens, people, games, books, television, drama, obsessions–anything to avoid having to hear our own internal voices.
This inherent cultural noisiness we’ve embraced wears on us, both spiritually and spiritually. There are precious few truly quiet places left on the Earth, just as there are dwindling spaces where we can experience darkness in its truest form. And when we are not able to experience these things, our bodies and souls lose something precious.
You see, the world has a voice. It is big, and deep, and beautiful, and terrifyingly intense. It is always speaking to us. It courses through us every moment of every day, binding us through its rhythms and echoing harmonies. Our ancestors knew this. They felt it in the caves where they painted their holy images. They could feel it in the winds that blew across the open plains where they hunted. They watched the skies, hearing the exchange between Earth and the moon and the stars, a slow, deep, ancient conversation that began long before life ever existed on this world.
Our ancestors heard this song through the deep quiet, and they knew that they were a part of the conversation. They knew that they existed beyond this day to day life. Down to the molecules, we are eternal. Our ancestors knew that, even if they did not have the language to describe it.
We can know this too. We just need to put down the devices. Put down the games and the drama and the worries. Set it all down for a moment, and just be. Listen. Remember.
The world will be there when you get back, just as life returned to my apartment complex the other day. The noise will always be available, so take some time and appreciate the quiet while you can.