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Posts Tagged ‘Pensees’

GC Myers Eternally FreeAll of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

–Blaise Pascal, Pensées 

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This week’s quote continues the theme of silence that showed itself in yesterday’s post where poet Wendell Berry advised us to sit alone and to be quiet, to accept those things we might find in the silence.  This oft-quoted line from  French mathematician/philosopher Blaise Pascal from back around 1660 shows us that even in that world without smartphones and the constant crackle of 24/7 electronic and social media the idea of sitting in silence made most people anxious.

It’s an interesting thing to ponder.  As I sit here, a little before 7 AM in my quiet studio, I can hear the thump of a bass from someone’s car stereo probably almost a mile away as it goes down the road.  That is someone who obviously isn’t ready to embrace silence and believes that they are doing everyone else a favor by breaking it up so we won’t be bothered by it.

Hard as it is to admit, I was that guy at one point in  my life.   Noise was a way of making my presence, my existence, known.  

The lion’s roar.  The barbaric yawp.  

It was all an existential scream that tried to break through the ever-growing wall of sound from the outside world that threatened to obscure everything, melding all the noises into a huge suffocating drone of anonymity.

But my noise made no difference.  No single sound, no one angst-filled scream could break through and show that I was indeed alive, that I mattered.

No, existence was found sitting quietly in a room alone.

It wasn’t always easy.  In the silence there is nowhere to hide from every random thought, every fear, every diminishment of yourself. But silence provides the gift of acceptance after a time and every relived thought and moment, good or bad,  becomes equally part of the make-up of your self.  You come to realize that proof of your existence is in this acceptance and not in that barbarous scream that you once thought would scar the world as that proof.

It sounds too simple, I know.  But simplicity is sometimes very difficult and I still find myself struggling to stay in the silence, to not revert to screaming out.

But most days I find that it is worth the effort.

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