I get impatient. I want things to move fast. Get it over with. Get on with it. Get the answer. What is the solution? Hurry up, will you!
A few days ago, I was driving down 610 around 10:30am. I have never done this very often simply because I have never been around at 10:30am to be driving down 610. I was always off somewhere in the hinterlands working or saving the world or something.
Anyway, I noticed something very strange. I was sandwiched in between cars front and back and we were easing along 610 at about 40 mph. Are you kidding me? I have never driven slower than 45 mph on 610. Usually it is always at least 50 mph. What is going on here? And then it hit me – this isn’t the commuter crowd out racing up and down 610 at 5:30am. Instead, these are a different kind of people. People who have a bit more time to breathe – inhale and exhale. These are people who might need to be somewhere but they aren’t having to drive like bats out of hell because there is still two hours and 65 miles left in their morning commute! These people – gasp – might even be conversing and looking around at things.
It struck me. Hard. I have been so used to fast and furious that oozing down 610 at 40 mph felt awfully slow. But, frankly, it felt really good, too. I decided that I might get used to it.
I spent some time thinking about all of the things around me that supposedly are meant to make my life easier because they are faster or more convenient or because I am being given more choices. Easier living, I’m told. Happier living. I bet you can come up with even more things that make your life faster and easier, right?
– Amazon One-Click
– 350 DIRECTV channels
– 140 character short messages
– 140 character Twitter messages
– iTunes Buy button
– iTunes music and video library
– Smart TV
– 150 Roku channels
– Facebook ‘friends’
– 250 XM audio and sports channels
– Stacks of DVD and Blu-ray discs
– Google search
– Keurig K-Cups
– On-line banking and investing
– On-line college classes
– 1000s of Netflix streaming movies
– Xbox gaming and on-line content
– Pre-packaged ‘family’ meals
– Microwave ovens
– 24×7 TV news cycles
– 24×7 Twitter news feeds
– Friending, favoriting, starring, and thumbs-up
– Blocking, de-friending, and muting
– Pizza and Chinese home-delivery
– Ice machine
– Select-a-number bed
– Pills, medications, self-help, drinks to fix or relieve any ailment
– Sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, calorie-free, organic, natural foods and drinks
– On-line real-time stock and investment tracking
– Multiple hard drive backup options
– Vista, Win7, Ubuntu, iOS, Android Jelly Bean
– Breadmaker with light or dark crust, regular or firm, ‘begin now’ or delay timer
– Five remote controls
– Automatic light timers
– Automatic air fresheners
– Spray and clean bathtub and toilet cleaner
– No-frost freezer
– Refrigerator full of food and drink
– Wireless printers
– Three wireless house phones
Are you tracking with me? Have you already lost interest? Are you meh – or are you angry?
But the better and bigger question that I must ask myself: “So how is all of this convenience and ease working out for you, Fred? Is life awesome and satisfying for you? Are you feeling it? Are you happy?”
No, I’m not being a cynic and I’m not being a Luddite hippy. I’m also not questioning what is good stuff and what is bad stuff. But what I am questioning is why are so many of us unhappy, angry, tired, and just generally ticked off when we are surrounded with convenient, fast, and easy stuff? All meant to make our lives more satisfying? All meant to make our lives more meaningful? All meant to make our relationships stronger and healthier?
You get it. I’m not the first one to think about this nor will I be the last.
Look, sometimes my mind and soul is so full of noise and clatter – with stuff from the list above – such that there is no wonder that I’m unhappy and dissatisfied. After all, I can’t even hear myself think from all of the noise in order to even attempt to make a good and balanced decision.
I may think that I can’t understand myself without filtering, manipulation, and massaging with all of the pre-canned filters that I surround myself with to make my life supposedly better. It’s what I might think, but, honestly, it just isn’t working out. I’m not finding peace in the noise of life. I’m not finding satisfaction and warmth in the racket of life. I find no hope and future in the man-made rattling of mechanical and electronic stimuli. It’s dark.
I have mentioned before – and the one who said this is my best friend and will know what I am talking about – that it was once said to me, “I’m afraid of the silence because of what I might hear.” Yes, I understand. It is pretty scary to hear pure, unadulterated murmurs from a soul for the first time.
And my faith says that in personal silence, I might even hear God speaking. He can communicate in many ways, I believe. And yes, he can speak to me – he has done it before. But I have to listen for him. I have to give him a chance. I have to meet him where he is – in places that aren’t packed with ambient numbing human sounds. When God speaks, it is as clear as a bell. I know when it happens and you will, too.
I’ve been working very hard in the past few months to be quiet. To listen. To listen to my soul and to listen for God. And I have conversed with myself and with God, I’m thankful to say. But it is only in silence that I can do this. For me right now, being silent is one of my most important objectives. It is on the field of silent meditation that I am able to meet God – completely him and in the whole.
Understand that the admission price for silence isn’t free. It costs as much humility and selflessness as can be mustered. It won’t be silent if all I’m going to do out there is argue and jest and be a comedic cynic. But if I can pay the admission price – it’s a pretty high price – and obtain the ticket, the vista is long and wide and God will be there waiting.
I pray that I can slow it down and become better at being silent. And you, too.
– Be quiet
– Listen to the murmurs of my soul
– Listen for God
– Learn to be silent even in the midst of noise