I think I’m missing quiet moments in my life. It’s not the fault of my wife or son, they live for quiet moments, they share quiet moments, they relish quiet moments. Me though I’m a different story. If the TV takes too long between commercial and television show and there’s that pause where the screen goes black I’m on my feet swearing and screaming “boring!” I don’t want you to misunderstand, I can handle quiet, I can sit and read a book—in fact I love sitting and reading a book. What I can’t do are moments where my brain isn’t occupied.
Last night Jack and Kim went into our backyard and stared at the moon and the stars, apparently last night was a special night when you could see Jupiter beneath the moon if you looked. I spent about 35 seconds staring and that was it, I was out. Kim and Jack could spent the rest of the night looking though. That’s what I’m talking about when I say quiet moments. Not necessarily moments when the world is still but those moments when you’re able to shut off the world and feel the connection between all things. I’d be a horrible Jedi, I’d never be able to feel a disturbance in the force because I wouldn’t feel connected enough because I couldn’t shut off my mind. Look at that last sentence, how I wrote that, that’s my brain. My mind is like yours after you’ve drank 3 cups of coffee and chased it with a line of coke.
When I was on a spiritual quest some years ago I spent a lot of time exploring Buddhism. You can guess why it didn’t work. I was down with the suffering, I got it, I understood it’s teachings and dug a lot of what it had to say, there was just that pesky meditation that I couldn’t wrap my head around. It’s funny but in a lot of ways I don’t agree with the Christian church but I get talking while praying, even silent prayer. In Christian traditions you never actually have to shut off your mind—oh sure they talk about quiet meditation but during that time you’re usually working from or on lists—I have to say this many Our Fathers, these are the sick people I hope will get better, this is what I have to feel guilty about. Unlike Asian religions there is never a time in Christianity where they say now shut off your brain, think about nothing and feel the air around you.
Never one to blame myself for anything ever (really ask my wife, brothers co-workers, employers, former employers, former teachers, etc they’ll all tell you that I can find a way to rationalize myself out of any blame for anything!) I don’t accept that it’s my fault I can’t shut off my brain activity and enjoy these quiet moments. I was born into the information age that became the digital age. From my earliest memories television and radio have always been there. Computers and iPods, Smart phones and apps, have been recent additions but it’s just different delivery systems for the same fix. So, it’s not my fault that I can’t shut off my mind, it’s the modern world. Sure they can shut off their minds in Asia, they manufacture this crap but they don’t use it. And now, in this day in age, I bet if you drop me off in Beijing I bet you’d find a whole bunch of people just like me. And all that sounds good and it sounds reasonable and it sounds like it might be true but that doesn’t explain Kim and Jack and the other billions of people who can live and work in the this technological age but still shut off their brain when desired.
So, while I recognize that this isn’t my fault but a cause of the world in which I live, I also understand that many others would probably ask me to be introspective and see the forest through the tree and just say the word—anxiety. I probably suffer from some form of anxiety. Anxious I scoff, me?! Well who wouldn’t be, how are you not?! Have you seen the price of gas, how about who’s running for President of these here United States? Done any food shopping lately, how about worried about bullies in your kid’s school? Anxious, how the hell aren’t you anxious! So, it’s reasonable in my mind to accept that I have some form of anxiety. I also believe that I’ve always been anxious. I think I know why I’m anxious, I think it has a lot to do with my upbringing. Look, we all go through stuff, I get it, mine has just manifested itself through anxiety, maybe you have commitment issues, I don’t know but I get we all have stuff.
So, yeah, I’m anxious. I always understand why I’m more anxious now than I used to be. I’m not special, this is just where my neurosis kicks in, maybe you wash your hands after touching a door knob. I honestly feel the weight of my responsibilities deeply. More than that, I feel the weight of the impact of my poor decisions and planning on my responsibilities deeply. If only I had gone to school for engineering, if only I have done this or that, then we’d all be eating cake and wearing Prada right? Yeah, I know, it’s not a way to walk through life or a lesson in learning how to enjoy quiet moments but it’s the truth. One of my goals this year is to enjoy the quiet moments, to recognize when and how I can enjoy the stillness of the world and to hopefully give myself a break and not take it all so hard as Keith Richards would say. Check back with my wife in a year and I’m sure she’ll be able to tell you whether we’ve enjoyed any time staring at the stars.