I believe it was Soren Kierkegaard who said that if he could recommend one thing for the world, it would be silence. For if the voice of God was even made known, it could not be heard over the silence. As I was driving to and fro my birthplace and my home now, I had that kind of idea on my mind. Believe it or not, I only had the radio on for a CD towards the last leg of my return trip.
The silence gives much to think about. We live in a world saturated with noise. Yet as I drove through nature, the thought occurred to me that we never seem to think of nature as loud. Now there are loud aspects of course. There are thunderstorms and hurricanes and avalanches, but how often would you think of someone saying “Nature is so loud!” We go to nature to get away from it all for it is so silent.
That’s one thing I like about a swimming pool. You can go and be in a pool and just be alone with your silence. In our world, it is hard to find places and times to get away and as I write this, I become of my own lack of experience with nature. I’m an indoors type of guy and I wonder how many of the ancients could actually imagine a life with the most active part being spent indoors.
Could this be a reason we have such a hard time focusing? We have so much noise around us that we find it hard to take in. We tend to have to have something going on. How many housewives will turn on a TV just so they can hear a voice? How many of us can listen to IPods and MP3 players? Do we really take time to just have silence and think?
Maybe we should when we’re driving more often have the radio off and just listen to the sound of nature. Maybe if we go to the ocean we should just sit at times and watch the ocean come in and out and meditate on it. I love being active in the ocean, but maybe at times it’s best to let the ocean be active on us, the way that I tend to let the water in the pool act on me rather than me act on it. I’m not against swimming of course, but I am against doing so much we don’t have time to relax.
Kierkegaard was a smart man, and while I disagree with much of what he said in his approach to apologetics, I do believe he was right on this one. If we are to recover focus, we need to learn the value of silence.