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The pursuit of silence. And failing at this.

on June 14, 2014

There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark‘.

Or, perhaps, ‘I can feel a (small) disturbance in the Force‘.

Whatever.  My life feels out of kilter.  Something feels wrong.  I’ve lost my sense of peace.  And I’m not sure why.  It may be that, having finally got divorced, I suddenly find myself without the thing which has been the main purpose of my life for the past two-and-a-half years.  It feels slightly like I’ve been navigating white-water rapids, only to find myself becalmed in the ocean.  I like it, but it’s *weird*.  It may be that I’ve finally managed to find a builder to give me a quote for some work which needs doing to the house, and spending money makes me anxious.  Or perhaps it’s because I’m going on holiday next week, and I’m a littler nervous about it.  Or it could just be that I’m not getting enough sleep at the moment, and I’m really tired.

I thought I would spend some time in silence, trying to work out what was going on.  Quakers are advised to try to spend some time in silence every day.  I find this hard.  By the time my children are actually asleep, I have so little free time left and so many things I need and want to do that it is painful to give some of that time over to sitting doing nothing.  It’s hard because it takes a degree of discipline and focus, neither of which I have in abundance.  And, although I have on occasion found spending time in silence incredibly beneficial, found answers, found a sense of wellness, I often find myself sitting thinking, ‘This is pointless. It isn’t working.  I’m wasting my time’, as if silence is a utilitarian pursuit valuable only for what it produces.

So tonight, when Big Girl and Small Girl were in their bedroom – definitely not asleep, but in their bedroom and not unhappy about it – I decided to try to find some space in my head.  I sat on my sofa and breathed and tried to bring my attention to ‘here’ and ‘now’ and to settle down into silence.

This is challenging when your children are playing at Father Christmas upstairs.  Big Girl was being Father Christmas and Small Girl was the recipient of her bounty.  I tried to monitor, vaguely, their general state of happiness, and whether the occasional sounds of pain required attention.  It’s difficult to do this and also think about ‘that of God within me’, but not impossible.

And then, ‘It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming…’  My neighbours are watching the World Cup. Loudly.  Earlier they sang along to the national anthem.  Loudly and not so tunefully.  My walls are pretty thin.  I hear a banging noise and try to establish whether it is coming from next door or my children.  I think, if God exists as a conscious entity who likes to engage with people, I hope there’s grace for people who try to do some kind of praying-ish while the World Cup is on, and God would take into account my distraction by the sound of football and loud swearing from next door.  If God doesn’t exist at all, or only as some part of me, there’s probably no grace for World Cup distraction and I’ll just have to live with it.

And then I realise that the sound from my children has been growing, incrementally and insidiously. Slowly, they’ve moved from happily giving and receiving imaginary presents to screaming and laughing wildly.  It’s a bit like the apocryphal boiling frog experiment – there’s no obvious noise threshold crossed until you realise the neighbours’ dogs (the other neighbours…) are barking angrily, and you go into the bedroom and discover one child’s bed has been completely stripped and the contents of the room are piled onto the other bed.  And what was supposed to be quiet, calming pre-bedtime play has descended into chaos without me really noticing.

No silence for me tonight. But at least I’ve tried.

 

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3 responses to “The pursuit of silence. And failing at this.

  1. nights7 says:

    Hi. I recently started following you and I enjoy your blog. I nominated you for a Leibster Award. Sorry. Check it out here: http://nightswatchblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/liebster-award-mach-ii/

    • Thank you! It will take me a while to get a blog post done for it (I still need to write about my holiday last week…) but it makes me really happy that you like my blog this much! I read yours too, but I don’t think I could follow it by email, so I don’t get updates (I never actually use the reader, even if I follow blogs on there…)

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