I heard a really intriguing quote this week. I think if I had heard it a month ago, it may have gone unnoticed by me. I guess timing is everything. Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, had the following to say, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” With plenty of sitting quietly in my room for the last two weeks I had to give this some serious thought. This sitting quietly has been tough stuff! To be honest it has been tougher than I thought and for some unexpected reasons. I thought I’d share a few of my quiet room discoveries in case you are feeling them too.
- I am still a productivity addict. I have made significant strides in my post corporate career life in detoxing from productivity overload. Up until the last couple weeks, I thought I had kicked the productivity habit, unfortunately my habit is still there. I want to feel productive…I want to have lots of stuff to do and juggle…action, give me action!!! When the best contribution I can make is to stay at home and remain calm, well, that is proving to be an uncomfortable place for me.
- Things are not what they seem. When I was doing lots of stuff and juggling it all, how many times did I offer to pay lots of money to have a day in which I could: read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe, do that home project…yes the list goes on. Here I am with the opportunity to do those things and the bulk of things go undone. A bit perplexing based on how strong my desire was. I have to be honest with myself and wonder if I use my list of unattained desires as evidence of my incredibly productive life. The discomfort of that thought may bring about a Netflix binge!
- Old stuff feels new. I think the most profound quiet room experience is that wounds I thought I had healed have another layer of injury. I have found myself grappling with grief, sadness, loss and fear that I thought was healed long ago. I knew in times of fear, loss, sadness and grief I would feel those things, I did not expect to have them attached to specific memories and experiences that I thought I had laid to rest. Perhaps this is a way to tell myself that I have experienced those things in the past and I will survive this too. I have to go with Shrek on this one, it’s about our layers…and there is always another layer.
It is apparent I will have more opportunity to hone my ability to sit quietly in a room alone. I believe that life is about showing up and I am learning new ways to do that. I do want to learn to sit quietly in a room. I am buying into Mr. Pascal’s belief that by developing this ability I will serve humanity better when I leave my room. I invite you to ponder how to sit quietly. With that, I will leave you with what may be Mr. Pascal’s most brilliant words, “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”