The other day, Jay and I were driving with the kids. The noise in the car had reached a crescendo. Or at least we thought it had. Our patience were frayed. We looked at each other and agreed, we missed the quiet.
I think it’s one of the most underrated luxuries of life before children. Before kids, it was easy to find long, extravagant periods of utter silence. Though, I suppose at the time it didn’t feel extravagant. It’s possible even that there were times that I was irritated by the silence. Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. And the quiet, ANY quiet, is surely gone. I’m the mother of two boys. Noise is beyond normal, it’s entrenched.
But it’s not just motherhood, though I think this distinction has made it more obvious. There is so little quiet in all parts of my life. Some of the noise is concrete, the radio, the bing of my phone, meetings, office chit chat, or the ambient noise of the blender at my favourite haunt.
But some of the noise is abstract. In my head. And because there are so few quiet moments in general, those that I have are often filled with a myriad of thoughts. When the real world is quiet, my mind is usually reeling and it can be very noisy. Sometimes overwhelming.
Learning how to quiet my mind, I’ve discovered, is the most important part of Project Finding Me. It’s the biggest piece in my journey, the one at I expect will take the most work. But I think it’s the most vital part of finding my centre and feeling stronger in my life. I hesitate to say that it’s about meditation, but the more that I learn and read, the more I realize that this might be the very thing that I need.
I’m reading this excellent book right now (yes, another book), a memoir by Mary Piper called Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World. It’s about her personal struggles with the demands of a successful career and her journey toward a quieter, more meditative life that would provide her with self-acceptance and joy. (I know, how couldn’t I read it?!)
Reading this book I have seen so much of myself. While reading her description of her struggles I found myself literally exclaiming out loud. She is a kindred spirit. She says:
My misery forced me to reflect, which led me to slow down and take better care of myself. These actions propelled me to meditation, which fostered calmness and an appreciation of the moment. Being present led me to the heart of the hear of the universe. For the rest of my life, when I need that place, I’ll know how to find it.
And so now I know my next steps. In such a short time I’ve come so far. I’ve come this far because of the goal that I set for myself early this year. I’ve taken the steps that I needed to get here. I went to therapy, I began to write in a more focused and meaningful way, I’ve made deep connections with people who understand me or who are at least willing to cheer me on, I’m learning to delight in the ordinary, and now I will seek and appreciate calm and quiet. This is my toolbox. Each an important part of the arsenal that will keep me off the cliff.
I’m making progress, even if I stumble a bit along the way.