There’s a problem in the world today – silence makes us uncomfortable. Whether it’s awkward silence in a conversation, or waiting quietly at the barbershop, we don’t like it.
Why does it make us uncomfortable? Well, look around. Between social media and Netflix, we’re constantly training ourselves to fill spare time. The irony is that we think we are actively engaging but in reality we are passively consuming. We can already see where this path leads – we’ll be watching a show, and next thing you know the phone is out. Even watching TV is becoming uncomfortably ‘silent.’
So, what’s the big deal? Well, there are plenty of negative effects of this phenomenon, but we’re going to focus on one.
The Interior Life.
“From the moment he ceases to converse with his fellow men, man converses interiorly with himself about what preoccupies him most.” – Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange
It might sound silly, but we all know this is true. We talk to ourselves. Everyone does this, or at least has the ability to.
Okay, so why is that important? The interior life is where we can actually take a step back from our lives. Take a look at our lives from the outside or from the big picture. Being human, our perspective is a bit limited. My perspective of the world is exactly that MY perspective. I have no idea what it’s like in my wife’s mind, although I do wonder… Cultivating an interior life helps us move beyond our own limited view. It’s where we should grapple with big topics like Truth and Goodness. (I say should – because we all know we can spend a good ten minutes thinking about something stupid).
So, that’s the Challenge for this Week. At least once every day, actively choose to engage the silence. If you listen to the radio on drive, if you read books on the train, if you listen to music during your workouts… embrace the silence. Again, only once per day. You’re welcome to do more. But, be aware of how the silence makes you feel, and what you think about. Don’t worry if you don’t ponder the meaning of life in between sets of bench press. But, be aware. Some of us may be surprised by “what preoccupies us most.”
Be the Men.