“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” – St. Francis de Sales
We move so fast.
Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Ipod, Ipad, texting, IMing, DMing, and on and on and on. It’s a treadmill, a carousel, a super highway. But I’m not posting on the evils of technology and social media. I love social media, the internet, and all things digital and wireless. I see its great good and great uses.
I am taking a time out, though. Something happened to me twice today, that I found interesting. It was stillness. Stillness that led to reflection. Little oases of calm in my day. Little gifts of peace.
The first came in a passage I read in Audrey Niffenegger’s new book, Her Fearful Symmetry. It was the kind of passage that made me stop reading so I could savor it, imagine it, and wish I’d written it. In the story, a man had a tooth pulled, and was told not to smoke for three days so he wouldn’t loosen the scab that formed. He was a serious smoker–the kind who savor the experience the way some savor fine wines. Smoking was a thought-full act to him, not just a passing compulsion. Needless to say, he was upset. But his friend, a young woman who spent time with him, offered to smoke for him. Read this:
“Julia put her hand on Martin’s shoulder. They leaned into each other. She turned her head and put her lips to the cigarette; the tip glowed. Martin’s eyes were half-closed, his mouth half-open. Julia tilted her face, and when she was inches away she blew the smoke very slowly…” (p. 257)
Then tonight, while I was checking online, looking for nearby shows of my favorite musicians , I came across a Youtube video of singer/songwriter Ray LaMontange. I was clicking around all over the place, answering the phone, reading a bookstore signing contract, and checking my calendar when this came on.
It stopped me dead in my tracks.
I think that state of arrest is what artists crave when they publish their work. If a writer really and truly only wrote for herself, the words would sit on shelves around her house where only she could read them. If a painter only painted for himself, he wouldn’t hang his picture in a gallery. Even a recluse like JD Salinger (who passed away today) chose to publish his work. Why? Because he wanted a response. He wanted to share some truth he knew–even it was only to get a rise out of his audience.
So I come back to you. What makes you still? What arrests you? Is it a prayer? A poem? A painting? A habit? I want to know what makes you step off the merry go round, and sit, and be still?