In January, I chose quiet as my word of the year.

At the current moment, thoughts swirl in my head and despite my intentions, the words stay behind the dam. I detest the feeling of having so much to say, but when I try to write, nothing appears worthy enough to pour onto the page. Some call this writer’s block; for me, it means not enough quiet time. In the last few weeks, I’ve fallen into a slipstream of surrounding myself with too much noise.

The distractions sprout from my choices – lingering a little longer on the Internet instead of carving out a space for meditation, choosing to take on paid freelance articles which leaves little time for my manuscript, saying yes to social activities that are unfulfilling personally and expending too much energy on situations and people beyond my reach. The culmination of these wrong choices leads to a general irritation with the pulse of anxiety gaining momentum when night falls. A forced quiet pushes me to confront where and how I spent my hours during the day. I realize nothing is stopping me from saying no to these distractions, but I continue hurling toward the same behavior like a ball rolling down a hill.

In writing this post, an epiphany materialized. Quiet is a choice too.

The benefit of putting quiet as priority number one, at least for me, isn’t always instantaneous. I need a few days to sink into the solitude, bathe in my own breath and make time for what matters to me. This requires a particular consistency I haven’t managed to completely adopt in my life. Sometimes I know a particular interaction or situation will lead to unrest, but I participate anyway. Is it peer pressure, familiarity or the inability to say no? I am still trying to figure out what motivates my behavior and suspect sometimes it is a need to be a part of something. But you realize inclusion doesn’t necessarily equate to fulfillment.

I hope in the next 6 months to embrace the word, “No.” I am a firm believer that saying yes to one thing, means saying no to something else. The key is determining whether my yes trumps what I am choosing to decline. Saying “no” isn’t always the comfortable or easy choice, but continuing to lose my footing in my personal slipstream creates a resentment I am unwilling to ignore.What bothers me about this path is I am ignoring the heartbeat of my life. Why am I fighting the current?  I hurt only my personal well-being and mind. The words of Norman Juster come to mind, yet again:

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”

Carving a pathway to listen to the quiet requires proper preparation. It is up to me to make that choice.


Image: A Quiet Place by jimmy brown via Flickr