On the Importance of Quietude


I was selfish this weekend. Blatant, unabashedly, selfish. Sequestering myself in a lovely hotel suite on Friday afternoon, I made some time for myself. I only did what I wanted. Nothing that ‘needed’ to be done, nothing that ‘should’ be done. Only what I wanted. I spent hours in bookstore and selected four new titles to read through the weekend (as of this posting I’ve finished two)… and I took my time. I picked up and I put down. At one point I had a dozen and had to cull the stack slightly. I debated Moleskine journals versus leather-bound sketchbooks. You get the point… I did it slowly and thoughtfully, allowing myself the time and the luxury of being in the moment. The rest of the weekend, I stayed in sweats, ordered room service and read.

I’ve not turned on television or music at all during this time, nor have I had phone calls or emails. A few texts (and by a few I mean, 3) only. By the time I check out, that will have been 47 hours of silence.

2013-08-09 16.22.20

It was decadent.

I also did a lot of thinking and pondering, and sorting of things that I’ve not made time to digest. Allowing myself the quiet and space to recuperate from life and rejuvenate from my responsibilities helps me to be my highest best self. I see that now. I’ve said to my family, I don’t have time to ‘insert anything related to self-care here’. And in doing so, I’ve done us both a disservice. I can’t be the best I need to be for them, nor myself, if I don’t make time for the care and keeping of me.

And wow, does it show. Over the last few months, I cry easier, get more easily frustrated, and I found that I’m harboring resentments that are either trivial and silly or they are downright toxic. And I KNOW better than to allow emotional things to fester like this… but getting in my own way, I disallowed both the notion and actually experiencing quietude in my life.

Quietude   Definition and More from the Free Merriam Webster Dictionary

A quiet state. Repose. Mind boggling states of being, as they felt so huge and foreign on Friday. I realized that I had to consciously make myself slow down when I went to the bookstore. I had to consciously force my shoulders into a relaxed state. I had to consciously let go.

Being fully present in the cocoon I created this weekend, was both intriguing and alarming. I saw how short my attention span has become, reaching for the mobile device (which had made no noise to indicate a message of some kind was received) every 10-15 minutes. I felt myself become bored and tried to remember what that felt like, so I’ll recognize it the next time it shows up. In our ADHD culture, we don’t often allow ourselves to feel boredom. Once the tiniest inkling of it strikes, we’re off to do something faster, bigger, better, shinier… anything ‘more’ than what we’re doing. I allowed boredom in and let it stay awhile. It came to visit a couple of times over the weekend and I had to make more conscious efforts to stay in my chair. My monkey mind was telling me to get up and go shopping (‘you need new clothes for work’), or to go to a movie (‘you know you want to see that Star Trek movie AND it’s probably in a dollar theater somewhere’), or other things similar to this.

Reminding myself that this stuff used to fill in the empty spots or buying things or short-lived experiences (like the movie, which I would also sometimes equate to ‘stuff’) doesn’t add to the quality of anyone’s life. It adds to the quantity of things in your life, which I might add, don’t fill the empty spots at all.

It’s been liberating, this realization (or re-realization), that it’s acceptable to be somewhat selfish when it comes to taking care of yourself. No one can, or will, do it better than you will. By the same token, no one can fuck it up as greatly as you can either.

I’m making a list of things that I will try to work on… things I’ve realized that have to be a priority.

1) Inject more quiet in to my day. No TV, no music, no audiobooks. Just quiet. It unfettered the mind and allows it to go to some pretty interesting places.
2) Move. Get out of bed a little earlier, go to bed a little later, actually take a lunch break and get up from my desk and walk. If the day’s schedule allows for no other form of exercise, walk.
3) Make the time to cook really good food. Life is too freaking short for take out. (When you extrapolate this one out, it also means making the time to plan and shop for everything required to cook really good food).
4) Limit screen time at home….for everyone.
5) Remove toxic relationships and behaviors from my life. (Even though the last few years have been huge in this area, it’s still obvious that some are still there.)
6) Live with more integrity. (This doesn’t mean that I am living without it, but rather, is a note to further refine how I live with integrity and how to do it better.)
7) Spend more time with friends.
8) Laugh more.
9) Love better.
10) Write. (Every.Stinking.Day.)

and lastly,

11) Schedule the next Weekend of Quietude. (I think this must become habit.)


It’s just not possible that I can sleep any later than 7 AM anymore.

This feels more a harbinger of lurking middle age and a reminder of life’s responsibilities than any number of crows feet I might see around my eyes in the morning mirror. What the hell… at least watching the sun rise is a decent trade-off.

2013-08-11 07.25.47

(I’m also learning, as I approach middle age, that I must start writing down the brilliant writing ideas I have while lying in bed watching the sun rise, all while cursing my inability to sleep late. They don’t like to stick around, or aren’t as clear, by the time I make my way to my laptop.)


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