When was the last time you were silent? Or sat in silence? Have you ever spent more than an hour or two without the companionship of the radio or television? Have you ever laid down your cell phone and your iPod?
What about non-verbal communication? How long can you go without emailing, Twittering, texting, and checking or updating Facebook status? Have you tried?
The other day I saw a 20-something texting while on her bike waiting for the traffic light to change. A day later I saw another young woman riding her bike through a busy crosswalk while talking on the phone squeezed between her ear and her shoulder. I’ve seen a pair of young girls walking down the street together while one is busy yakking on the phone.
So what’s the common denominator here besides the fact that all three examples included females? I could just as easily have noticed male examples, I’m sure. The overriding point in my mind is the pull of the connection, the need to know everything about everyone at every minute.
It takes a heap of bad manners and rudeness, in my opinion, to be in your company and yap on the phone to someone else instead. It takes a lack of common sense and an abundance of youthful invincibility to believe that you can negotiate city traffic while distracted and still get home without a body cast or an ambulance ride.
Where does the multi-tasking end and the mindfulness begin? For me It’s begun, yet again, in retreating. I’m spending a few days in Edmonton, condo-sitting while Hilary is in Tokyo. She doesn’t own a TV or radio and must have taken her iPod with her for the long flight. I brought my laptop but have chosen silence over playing a DVD or listening to a radio station online.
This isn’t a grab for either pity or admiration. It is simply me acknowledging a basic truth for me: I crave this silence, this time apart from my regular, ?real? life to reflect and regroup. To hear and welcome my own thoughts rather than missing, overriding, ignoring, or censoring them. I’ve sent four emails out of necessity and made about that many phone calls home. Whole days have gone by without speaking a single word.
Instead I read deeply what I may have skimmed superficially at home with the TV providing background not-so-white noise. I’m using this time to journal as a way to capture and make sense of my life and work through some Stuff that has been simmering away beneath the surface. I’m mindful of what I’m eating and am sleeping when I’m tired rather than on some arbitrary schedule.
I am fully aware how lucky I am to have the time and opportunity to do this. I’m also aware that most people would not willingly choose this as a great way to spend a few days. Today, for that reason, I’m glad I’m not most people, from where I sit.