I try to spend at least 30 minutes each day in complete silence. No music, no social media, no phone calls or emails, no talking or humming, and definitely no TV, because I’m tired of hearing about which problematic politician wants a chance to ruin/run the world next.

In a world filled with noise, where persons can barely express themselves or sustain attention beyond 140 characters or a few emoticons, there is a strong demand for everyone to speak their mind. Further, we are bombarded with requests to share, follow, like, retweet, and regram whatever random incoherent string of ideas someone spills onto the internet. Any substantive discourse without pictures and music is boring and difficult to engage. We are labeled as ‘anti-social’ if we opt not to participate in the social media ego stroking festivals.

Suddenly, no part of our soul is sacred. Privatizing certain parts of one’s thoughts or simply reserving them for more intimate interactions makes one dull or uninteresting; introverted some say. Maybe that person is interesting beyond measure, but they just reserve access to that treasure chest for persons who are more genuine than curious. Friendships and deeper relationships suffer because everything we are is self-published, and there is nothing left to make persons close to us feel the privilege of being near.

be quietDuring my first week (and quite possibly the first hour!) of graduate school one of my professors made us read a piece by Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird called “Shitty First Drafts”. In this work, as the name suggests, Lamott discusses the process of writing well. In particular, she describes the almost inevitable fate of producing horrible streams of thoughts, bad word choices and overall poor quality during the initial round of writing. It is only after working through several of these “shitty” drafts do good writers then start to produce the powerful work that gets published.

Well if Lamott is correct, and good writers pass through several shitty first drafts before publishing, but millions of “not so good” writers burn their thumbs all day self-publishing their shitty first drafts, that means we are fed a whole lot of shit, and that can’t be healthy. Freedom of speech some call it. I imagine freedom of speech also means we have the freedom not to speak. Consider the power that lies in remaining completely silent at times and denying people a free license to enter, evaluate, criticize, misquote, misrepresent and distribute your life cheaply. That my friends is power. Think back to a time (if you can) when life was experienced, rather than recorded and broadcast. Do you remember when “you just had to be there”?

Some dreams are meant to be shared with your soul and the universe. Instead we find ourselves compelled to tell everyone about each small victory, plan for advancement and painful defeat. Meanwhile the same people who listen with eager ears are brewing with envy and malice that easily drives them on to plot our destruction. Sometimes, most times, it’s best to just work. If you work well enough the right people will hear, and by the time the wrong people hear you will be unstoppable!

Less talking and more doing. Learn to shut up, and embrace the beauty and power of silence.

– Dalan Vanterpool

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