Why Bother with Peace & Quiet?
Have you noticed?
If not crashing into your ears, then careening around in your thoughts – in your dreams. If you live urban, maybe you’ve noticed the sirens on emergency vehicles being given more volume to break through earbuds and .. well .. all the other competition. Birds are calling out to each other with more volume, too. There’s a lot out there demanding adaptation.
Some of it is leaf blowers, of course. Some is new construction. Some of it is garbage collection. Some is traffic and angry insults. And pushing its way through it all – the non-stop blahblahblah of media.
Still, the most steady and unsettling of the noise – at least for me – is fired and refired in the six inches between my ears. It’s even stopped my writing here – and that’s weird. The noise – real and in metaphor – is drowning out my sense of adventure and connection.
Yesterday, I ran across articles linked to the UN annual report on happiness. Since 2007 when the U.S. ranked 3rd, we’ve dropped to 19th. Distrust and isolation linked with corruption factor into the malaise. The same factors that, in reverse, predict happiness in the high ranking Nordic countries – social trust, connection and good will.
Of course, it’s complicated. There are all sorts of more discrete factors that social scientists point to as problematic. They’re in the report. And they may be right. But today, my strongest metaphor for our increasing unease is noise.
Here, then, is the question. In all the noise is there any possibility that peace & quiet still exist?
The question poses a worthy investigation. It’s a line of inquiry that, like the finest of window-openings reveals a threshold to a universe of questions – all with the answer, “of course. There’s always much more for you to rely on than you can imagine.”
My fearful mind is suspicious. Really? In the midst of this storming uncertainty that, from my experience, punishes our country these days, IS ANYTHING CERTAIN?
In recent months – really since the presidential election – My husband Gary Ferguson and I have been talking, thinking and dreaming about what we’re calling Full Ecology.
A crow has just flown to light on the bannister outside our east window. Just in time – a being to embody what Gary and I have been considering. Nature.
- Things we think of as natural.
- The weird human habit of knowing ourselves as not-nature – as separate.
- The absolute reliability of nature’s presence within and without, and –
- The availibility all the time of guidance from that – from nature.
The crow simply sat. It looked in the window.
There’s great research that indicates crows are quite good at learning patterns and retaining them over the long haul, but one of those patterns isn’t low-level anxiety and worry. It isn’t annoyance and a sense of distrust. There’s sitting, looking through onyx-bright eyes, making jerky adjustments in the angle of its head, and then hopping to look away and then to fly.
So what’s the benefit of this crow story to my noisy human life?
Well – Peace & quiet. The companionship in relationship – in interdependence – and in the diversity represented by my life this minute and the crow’s.
Whether I ever stop and notice, this constant companionship with all else and the peace & quiet holding it – well where would they go?
Like the natural world (of which I am unavoidably a part – always), peace & quiet are always present. Always. That fact alone will heal nothing of the trouble my mind knows is afoot – especially for and among humans. But there is something here for all of us to see – more clearly and with ever-more-humble intelligence. Yes, the intelligence that grows when we step back to address the seductive addictions within the trance of believing we are separate.
Full Ecology is just a phrase – but it points to some relief for weary human beings. At least to reliable wisdom.
As within, so without – say saints and sages of all traditions and cultures across all time.
Only bother with peace & quiet as you wish. It is there. Within and without, to give us back to our happiness. To show us the way home.