Sunday, November 17, 2013

Shut the Front Door

photo by Anna Reavis

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Thoreau

This morning I heard a woodpecker, which, as I was in the woods at the time, should come as no surprise. What was surprising was that I had been in the woods for 30 minutes with him pecking at the periphery of my hearing before I shut up long enough to truly hear him. And by shut up, I don't mean I stopped talking. I was alone with only my dog, and except for saying, "stop, stay, slow down" to her, I hadn't spoken.   What wasn't quiet was my mind. It was churning, contemplating things done and not done and things yet to do: analyzing, understanding, interpreting, predicting all kinds of things. I was thinking about the books I'm reading, the people I'm around in my life, where a bathroom might be, what I could eat, and yes, beer.  It took me 30 minutes alone in the woods to shut myself up enough to hear that lovely woodpecker.

Most of our lives, including our reading lives, are like this. Overwhelmed with the urge to comprehend, analyze, and thus control, our environments, including what we read, we often forget how to be quiet, let go, and just let things and people be who and what they are and listen for the beauty surrounding us, quietly insistent, in the background of our everyday lives.  The  next time you come across a work of art, a poem, or a book that you just "don't get,"  be quiet, and  let it be. And what it will be is beautiful.

7 comments:

Melissa said...

I think sometimes if one experiences a book, especially a more lengthy book, you can get more out of it than if you try to over analyze it.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Nice reminder. Thanks.

Bryan G. Robinson said...

Earlier this year, I read part of a book about silence called One Square Inch of Silence by an audio ecologist. While I didn't finish the book, I have been thinking about this concept of quiet, both interior and exterior. It is so hard to quiet the mind.

Barbara Bartels said...

Lovely post. While I am sometimes swept away -- forgetting myself entirely while reading, at others I like to listen to my feelings as I'm reading. A question I ask my reading self is how do I feel reading this book.

thecuecard said...

Nice post Amy. Listening to a woodpecker can be just beautiful --

Amy said...

Yes, silencing our minds is the most difficult silence to attain. But doesn't it feel lovely when you're finally able to do so?

Karen Marino said...

What a beautiful post. My mind has been very busy lately and I'm struggling to quiet it. It can be a chore ome days but one that's very worthwhile. Thank you for your beautiful post.