• Austen Hayes

Your Time, Your Life; How Do You Spend It?

It seems the less time spent with t.v., social media, magazines, the more we have to give. Our quality of connecting improves...less hurried, listening more, interested in what others have to say. More space and time to make interactions important.

17th-century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, wrote, "Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries."

And, oh, how distracted we are...something coming at us every minute of the day. Tempting tidbits of information meant to seduce, daring us to ignore offerings at our peril. With every book review, t.v. or internet promo, the message is clear...without "this" you'll be out of the loop, dull, boring, lacking in "cool". We strive to keep up, to do it all, gather more, know more, share more. We spend hours sorting through, picking and choosing...half-reading, half-listening - half-being.

The writings of Pascal, or Whitman, or present-day author and philosopher, Pico Iyer, are shaped in man's conflict - the need to know, engage, do meaningful work, vs. the need to refresh in quiet, to hear the presence of nature, to be still, to allow the flow of self-discovery.

It takes courage to say "no". It takes courage to do without. To be alone. Distraction may mask fears in the short-term. Busyness may hold the terror of unimportance at bay. Still, thoughts find their way in. When we're quiet, they come. Let them come.

Notice them. They've been there all the time, waiting to show themselves in the absence of commotion. Watch them as they move in, then move on. Noticing is not the same as attaching. Observing is not the same as judging. And when you choose not to engage troubling thoughts, space is there for creativity and imagination and appreciation.

In ancient times birdsong signaled habitats, "prosperous to humans"*. So, those who remained quiet, able to listen, would pass on something amazing and beautiful - life. Important messages may not come from 'experts', may not show themselves in words, may not be purchased or owned - may sometimes be found in the ease of silence.


Huddled in Quiet in an English Meadow

* Gordon Hempton, Acoustic Ecologist, Author, Philosopher, Listener

© austenhayes.com

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