Why are we afraid of quiet and solitude?
We are afraid of the things that would float up through the inner recesses of our minds when the noise around and within us quiets down.
So we stay constantly, conveniently distracted, drugged away from the slightest hint of guilt, sadness, or loneliness. We have a very low tolerance for discomfort.
We do all we can to be happy. We have to be happy. Anything other than happiness has to be evil, forces clawing at us, fighting to drag us down.
Our pursuit of happiness and comfort and sensual pleasure is at an all-time high. Entertainment is centerstage, the beginning, crux, and the end of our day. Even work is deemed unhealthy when there is no entertainment because “all work and no play makes …”, and the popular “we only have one life to live” and so we’d do well to pack it in with as much pleasure as possible.
Quiet? Silence? Solitude? That’s for losers and boring old men.
I think that our constant striving for easy distraction affects us badly in many ways:
Expertise and mastery are lost to many. Aside from the rare “genius”, mastery requires consistent, enormous investments of attention over extended blocks of time. This is near impossible where silence is seen as abnormal and must be plugged by whatever is available – social media, music, videos
Authenticity and individual uniqueness are rebuffed, frowned upon, and lost amidst the constant cheering for conformity. I’m not saying people should isolate themselves from the world, I only say it’s not worth losing your uniqueness and weirdness because you want to please a confused crowd.
We lose touch with our true selves. I mean the self and conscience and consciousness needed to course correct our ways. Filling up our minds and attention with distractions, even the legal, justifiable ones across the entire spectrum of life’s activities, is akin to pumping yourself up with alcohol and other drugs because you’re trying to escape from reality.
So for some, it’s a coping mechanism, justifiable maybe to an extent, but ultimately, you would have to wean yourself off it to return to reality, to deal with life, and to move on.
God help us, God have mercy.
A little respite is good for the brain, for the soul.
Some people say they are just fine with distractions and noise, others like me have a very low tolerance for noise. I prefer my peace and quiet.
So when should you be concerned?
Check if you find you’re constantly looking for something, anything, to block out having that inner time or conversation with thyself.
Best to deal with the root of the persistent headache than endless painkilling.
One way I’ve found to do this is by making peace with God, heeding the voice of your conscience, and attending to the issue. You will be on the path to enjoying your own company–no gossip or fun needed.
This post came together as I read Cal Newport’s post about the results of research on the effects of contemplation and solitude. Participants found that staying off social media, staying in their solitude improved their intelligence, concentration, I’d say quality of life (QoL).
It’s been a while! Life’s been interesting lately. I’ve been thinking of starting a weekly newsletter. Have I said that before?