This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com
Now, on to my blog:
A friend recently mentioned that she had attended a retreat on the topic of silence and stillness. What a concept!
All my life I have had trouble with being silent and being still. My interpretation of silence on the part of others in my presence meant that they were unhappy or bored with me. So, to ease my discomfort, I would fill the silence with chatter. Of course, that meant animation–the opposite of stillness–even if just body language. It was an exhausting enterprise, but I had no control over it; I did it without thinking–a compulsion.
I remember the turning point. I was driving with my then boyfriend when I noticed that he had become very quiet. I thought he was angry at me, because that’s how my ex-husband used to behave–the silent treatment, a cruel form of punishment. I went through a mental back-and-forth with myself, vowing not to be the first to speak.
Who does he think he is? He’s not going to get away with pulling that crap on me. I’m not going to have that in my life again. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
I was nervous, anxious, and worked myself into a defensive state. After a little while, my boyfriend made some inane remark such as, “look at that tree over there.” I was amazed. What I thought was going to grow into a big argument was just him being quiet. I had never realized that anyone could be quiet deliberately with no other motive.
It is very difficult to change a behavior pattern that took years to perfect. Although I’m still a work in progress, I’ve slowly gotten better with being quiet. My inclination is to fill those silences, but now I can stop myself. Sometimes, it requires a mental dialogue (I do a lot of those) that my role doesn’t have to be the entertainment committee–that it’s okay for me to just remain silent.
These days, I seem to crave quiet and calm more and more. I cherish my down days where I can pad around my house alone with no appointments, deadlines, obligations, etc. The space to spend my time reading, writing, thinking, and whatever else strikes me has become precious. I surprise myself with this new outlook; it’s so different from my former self. There is a peacefulness I didn’t have when I was younger.
Try adding periods of silence and stillness to your life. Schedule time for it if it doesn’t come naturally. Embrace it instead of fighting it. It is cleansing, calming, and healing.
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Photo credit: Eric Kilby via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA