One of my all-time favourite songs is from Depeche Mode, “Enjoy the Silence”. A quick Google search seems to reveal two predominant schools of thought as to its true meaning. Some think it has a relationship connotation while some think it is about heroin addiction. Either way, the take away for me has often been just the title itself.
At the moment I am writing this, I have the windows open, a gentle breeze is billowing through the curtains, I can hear a choir of birds singing while only the occasional car drives by. It is one of those magical moments of serenity when no one has their lawn mower running, the neighbourhood kids seem to have vanished temporarily, the neighbours’ dog has not barked yet, no one’s air conditioning has clicked on yet and no one is doing home renovations. Everything is still and calm. I have some gentle baroque music playing, but the volume is so low, it is just punctuating the moment with a little rhythm to set the pace for my writing while providing the perfect background music for the concerto of birds.
I look at my to-do list and despite my need to run errands and get some groceries, I think it would be a shame and a missed opportunity to leave this fleeting and precious moment in time. If I leave it now, I know the moment will be lost and I will come home later to dueling lawn mowers over the back fence, the neighbours will be back from Lowe’s with a carload of indoor and outdoor project work and the street will become a makeshift Indy Speedway for exuberant 7 year olds. So I decide to stay.
In a moment like this, one can’t help but breathe in the calm environment and exhale the stress of the week. It is about as close as one can get to a meditative state without sitting cross-legged on a pillow eyes closed and breathing light into one’s spinning chakras. By the way, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of meditation, I am just saying that this moment requires no special training, conditioning or guidance in meditation, this moment is there for the taking.
Let’s face it, our world is full of noise. I am not just referring to obvious noise like that of transportation vehicles, construction and car alarms, but all of the daily activities that keep our brains in the “on” position. As functioning members of society, of course being “on” is a fact of life, but in the crazy world of multi-disciplinary multi-tasking, the demands we place on ourselves, the doing more with less, the rapid-fire messaging bombarding us from all sides and the obsessive tendency of checking email and social media feeds every 6 minutes, we try to keep up but in doing so, we tend to lose sight of those fleeting moments of calm and serenity.
When I entered the work force, I viewed success as having money, a nice place to live and being fulfilled in one’s work. Over the years, my perspective shifted focusing more on health, balance and the people in our lives. Without these, none of my original criteria for success matter. Moments of calm and serenity like this are, to me, one of those precious things that can’t be bought, yet when I have them and take the time to notice them, I feel like I own the world. As I hear the breeze rustling through the leaves on the tree outside my window, I savour every moment of “being” rather than “doing”, and feel significantly more accomplished for it.
While I clearly dance on the line between being an extrovert and an introvert (as discussed in last week’s blog, “Is He or Isn’t He“) after a period of exerting a significant amount of extrovert energy, I need to balance it out with a period of introspection. In the moment, the extrovert in me thrives when I am “on” like the Energizer bunny and meeting all my commitments, but the introvert in me surfaces when my batteries are depleting. To me, it is those golden moments of conscious inactivity, remembering to breathe and enjoying the silence that recharges my batteries.
Oh darn… some bozo just started cranking up Katy Perry tunes and feels a need to share them with the entire neighbourhood. Kids in “outdoor voice” mode are suddenly out in full force. Some guy is repairing his motorbike and cranking his engine every few minutes. Of well, the moment was nice while it lasted. Time to go run errands…
PS: One of the books I am reading right now is Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder” which, if you are interested, offers an interesting perspective on the topic of balance.