Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to sit in quiet and stillness.
Drawn to loudness, it’s easy for me to be bombarded by noise and commotion. My legs swirl around the Elliptical machine at the gym, one hand scrolling through various social media apps on my phone and while the other hand flips through the pages of a magazine. My ears listen, hesitantly at best, to the latest episode of Pod Save America, as my legs keep circling, keep turning, keep spinning.
Sometimes, I’m addicted to stimulation, to all the things around me I think I need and want and must have, right this very minute.
I sit in front of my computer, creating a new draft of my manuscript. The bones of it are there – after all, this is the story I’ve lived and breathed and experienced for nearly four decades now. But the skin and the muscles and the blood aren’t quite there yet – that part of the body of my book is still a work in progress, a a not-yet-there kind of thing.
So, I attempt a second draft, filling in the blanks and daring myself to tell the truth, with gentleness and with fearlessness, even if it’s painful – even if I don’t want to acknowledge the depth of my story. But then, it’s like I’m back on the Elliptical all over again: I type a sentence. That’s not what I want to say. I rephrase the sentence. We’re getting closer, maybe. I delete the whole paragraph and start again, but just as my fingers are about to unlock the real truth, I feel the tinges of pain.
I don’t want to go there.
I don’t want to say that, to admit that, to make myself look like that.
So, I run. I open Facebook and Twitter. I scroll through email messages and I reply back to a text message. I create a grocery shopping list, I buy something on Amazon, I create a to-do list of other Very Important Things I should be doing, like enroll my child in kindergarten for the fall and figure out the color scheme for family pictures in a couple of weeks.
But when I do this, I ignore the Voice of quiet – the voice that speaks truth to me, the voice that begs me be still and listen for a change.
Really, it’s my go-to point of deflection: I avoid quiet because I want to avoid pain. I don’t want to admit and enter into and usher in hurt’s ugliness. Not wanting to feel that way, I grab hold of any distraction that comes my way, even if the voice booms loudly in the background, its truth now a flashing neon sign of direction.
A couple of months ago, I applied for a job, which also tends to be my go-to mechanism of avoidance. If, in the middle of an intense writing season – when, you know, I’m actually writing a legitimate book, the whole idea of which has always been my dream since I was a little girl – I don’t like all the alone time writers have to spend with their words, the solitary nature of a writerly hermit, then I think, YES. The obvious solution to this Really Hard Thing I’m actually doing is to pick up part-time work outside of the home, because being a writer is good, but all this alone time? Not good. Not me. Not beneficial. So, I apply and I go through the interview process and, in the end, I end up a finalist for the position – and even though I didn’t get the job, I come to realize that it’s just another distraction, just another way for me to avoid what I really need to be doing, which is to enter into stillness and quiet.
So, I’m trying. I really am.
As I sit here writing this post to you, I only hear the hum of the cars and the raindrops against my window and the faint hum of the space heater at my feet. I haven’t checked Facebook and Twitter in at least thirty-two minutes since its start, and my phone sits three feet to my left on the floor.
In seven hundred words, even when I’ve been scared I haven’t run to noise. Instead, I’ve let my fingers do the talking. I’ve dared my heart to find its way through.
And let me just say, I think it’s working.
I’m a Seven on the Enneagram. Can you tell? So, quiet and stillness: what say you?