Like many people, I’m over-entertained. It’s become ridiculously easy to avoid boredom and discomfort with a constant backdrop of music and podcasts and by filling in any remaining gaps by fiddling with my phone.
Walking or driving somewhere? Listen to a podcast. Waiting in line to use the restroom or stuck on a slow elevator? Surely something is going on on Facebook or Twitter.
A certain amount of that is good of course. Staying connected to folks via Facebook and Twitter is great, I’ve learned a lot about what makes people tick from the more intimate and honest podcasts, and I’m absolutely in love with music. I’ve even found that I’m way more productive while listening to that stuff. It fills up the part of my brain that wants to frantically jump from distracting idea to distracting idea, allowing the rest of me to focus on the task at hand.
But that nervous mind, desperate to get out of itself with a maelstrom of random thoughts, is also why silence can be so valuable. It’s the dead spaces, where boredom and the anxiety of existing conspire to force my brain to entertain itself where a lot of my best ideas come from. Some of the ideas my brain jumps to will be the seed for a story, a painting, or a video game.
Without realizing it, I’ve been slowly decreasing the amount of silence in my life. There was a gnawing feeling that maybe I was overdoing it, but it was a feeling I was ignoring. When I lost my dog last month, I got rid of the silence altogether. I filled every waking second with distraction. It helped me cope and it was the right thing to do at the time, but now that I’m moving forward it’s time to prune back more than I have in years and let the gaps between activities be gaps again.
Come back on November 6th for the next page!