I‘ve been spending a lot of time recently in traffic.
This is a result of stealing possession of my husband’s vehicle and also starting a job that forces me to cross the main bridge in Vancouver at least three times a week.
At first I was angry and then — as the five stages of grief are apt to progress — I came to bargaining (please, I’ll pay you my last $5 to let me pass you), depression (WHYYYYYYYY), and finally acceptance.
The acceptance wasn’t all light and fuzzy, but I filled my time without being resentful —eating craisins and listening to first the new Dr. Dre album and then moving on to Tim Ferris and James Altucher podcasts. And then, when that got old, sermons. And finally, when the light at the end of the tunnel started to dim, Praise 106.5 FM.
Eventually, though, no matter how spirit-filled, serenity-now, in-the-present I tried to be, the novelty of spending two hours in my car alone every day started to wear thin. And then, yesterday, it wore clean off. I turned on my car to hear Because He Lives (or was it Genocide) for the seventh time that day and I made the call: silence.
I’m one of those people so conditioned to background noise that when it ceases to exist my brain creates it’s own background noise. At first, it’s just an annoying ringing in my ears, but then the floodgates open and my mind starts talking.
Sitting in silence is hard.
Sitting in silence and stillness is even harder.
That’s why I always wish someone would fart in yoga class.
But I committed. I would not turn on the radio. I would not risk looking at my Words with Friends play. I wasn’t going to make eye contact with the man in the Jeep Wrangler who did not wait his turn in the merge lane. I wasn’t going to roll down the window to listen to the swearing and the exhaust pipes. I was going to sit — and inch along — until I got home.
There has been plenty of material on the WWW recently surrounding the idea of creating space in your life for the things that are important to you. This space is often misconstrued as being there to fill with friends and family and bubble baths and a good book and while there needs to be space for this too, that’s not the kind of space that is going to sustain you.
Our sustenance comes from the times we spend in silence and stillness with ourselves — feeling our feelings, asking our questions, talking out loud to our divine healers (whatever or whoever those may be). We rejuvenate by battling through the discomfort of being in that space, unoccupied.
When I got home from my forced hour in silent, motorized meditation I didn’t have the usual urge to turn on the television and start snacking and moving around the house aimlessly. Instead I had the energy to go for a run and, when I got home, I had the craving to sit in the silence of my apartment and open a book.
And then, unlike the nights of the past couple weeks, I had a really good sleep.
When we permit space in our lives to listen and to breathe — without distraction — we are not wasting time. We are enabling ourselves to rebuild.
And when we rebuild, we automatically make more room for those bubble baths, good books, nights in with friends.
Through contemplation we are completed.
Image // Andria Parker