I like quiet time. For me quiet time is first thing in the morning as everyone else in my family is asleep. I guess my kids got my wife’s ‘sleep in’ gene because they don’t seem to be the type of people who like to get up early. Either that or they don’t realize how much there is to worry about in the world, or I don’t realize how foolish it is it to worry about things so much that it keeps me from sleeping well. Even my dog sleeps in, I can hear his snoring even when i’m downstairs sipping hot tea.
I allude to worrying about life as the motivator for sleeping less than everyone else but that’s not entirely true. I’ve always been an early riser, even when I was a child. I remember when my parents would take me to my Step Grandmas house in the Florida Keys. I would wake up before everyone else and the only other person who was up was my Grandma Peggy. I distinctly remember the day we were on her intercoastal dock together and she said “Oh, your like me, you like to get up early”. I do remember liking quiet time even back then. I would check the set lines and see if we had caught any sharks, or just enjoy the quiet of the morning.
That was then, today I’ll go downstairs, walk around, maybe I’ll look outside and walk the dog or look at the sunrise and think, but not about much. This morning quiet time is about the only peaceful moment I have. Eventually the wife and kids start to stir, or the clock tells me I have to go get that process started, and the grind begins.
Quiet generally, but not always, means solitude. I guess you could say that the library is a ‘quiet place’ but there is still activity there. There are a thousand things to learn and do. There are many people there who are talking in hushed whispers. Sometimes you can sit in a corner, surrounded by actual paper books and get that feeling of quiet, but not always. More realistically, it’s not quiet time. No matter if you are there for work or for pleasure.
Quiet time empowers us to better control ourselves. I know this for a fact and not from some ethereal New Age teacher sharing sage wisdom in a candlelit and incense infused room. I know it from yanking my kids out of whatever activity they were getting overly hyper about and sending them to a corner for quiet time. It helps center them and allows them to better consider the distractions that were putting them into a dopamine induced tantrum. They are almost always better behaved after their age-appropriate period of quiet time. FYI, age appropriate is approximately 1 minute per year of life. I wonder if that means I need ¾’s of an hour in quiet time if I throw a tantrum?
There are some real benefits to quiet time beyond getting your eight year old to stop screaming about a being a Ninja and wanting to fight the family dog who is now apparently an evil monster kaiju responsible for the death of his ninja master. I’m not one of those people who puts stock into ‘energy’ but there is something that is energizing about quiet time, especially in the morning. I can only assume that it’s because different parts of my physiology and psychology are waking up in those moments. As more and more parts of me come online the quiet helps me organize mentally and emotionally to take on the challenges. Without that quiet time, I tend to have a harder day.
I think one of the things that I like about quite time is that it’s so opposite from the rest of the world. The world isn’t really a quiet place. The world is loud, very loud. When I say loud I don’t mean physical volume. The movement of air creating vibrations we decode with our inner ear is only one type of loud. The work emails in your inbox screaming for attention is also a type of loud. The cellphone in your pocket vibrating with text messages from friends expecting an immediate response is another type of loud. There is a reason why we use the phrase ‘loud and clear’ when someone gives us a look that says they expect us to do something or are displeased with the situation. All of these things and countless others scream for our attention.
Quiet time has been around a long long time. Spiritual people today meditate and/or pray during their quiet time. I can’t imagine that this was any different over the last few thousand years. The difference between the far past and today is the complex technology and productivity induced freneticism of our modern world. It’s not just the matriarch on the family estate that you have to answer to, it’s coming from our extended personal and professional relationships, our connected calendars, and even our organizations like government and school.
From what I can tell the biggest challenge of quiet time is that many of us need it but don’t get nearly as much as we need. In this case my insomnia driven early start to the morning allows me the quiet time I need to launch my day in a highly productive way. My family, especially my wife, requires much more sleep than I do. The demands on both of us during our waking hours are equally relentless. I just have more time to prepare for them than she does. She’s embattled from the moment she opens her eyes and has significantly less time to prepare for the challenges ahead.
I know my wife and I aren’t alone in our challenges relating to our need for, and availability of, quiet time. There are some who like me, have a way to easily get some quiet time. There are others, like my wife, who don’t have it. I guess that’s the point of this article. Quiet time can be a real asset and if it’s something you haven’t had in so long you forget what it’s like, maybe it’s time to explore it again. The biggest challenge is finding a way to reorient your life to have some of it. It’s got to be something that happens organically and procedurally. It can’t be something you prepare and plan for, although that’s the way most of us try and make things in our life happen. We try and plan for quiet time that way because that’s how we are used to managing other life priorities. I have come to the conclusion that quiet time has to be part of the normal process. For me quiet time is before everyone else gets up because I wake up before everyone else. I don’t plan it, it just happens. For other friends of mine, it’s a long commute through the country without any sounds playing. As long as they keep the job, they have quiet time.
Awareness is the first step. Do you have enough quiet time in your life? Do you have any? If not how can you get some as part of your daily cycle? Fair warning, If your not used to it, the quiet time may seem uncomfortable at first. It will take time to start to appreciate it. Once you do there’s no turning back. It’s simply too empowering. If you don’t have any quiet time or have never experienced it then I would try and figure out how to change your life so you do have some. The best part is that quiet time doesn’t have any real cost but it does have a ton of benefits. Also if you try it for a year or two and don’t like it you can always go back to a life without any quiet time. The world is willing to throw lots of noise at you with work, and family, and media, you know like blogs and podcasts. Speaking of media, I will give you one pass on choosing to not have quiet time. If your choice is because you want to fill your free moments in life with media, I won’t complain too much. Especially if it’s media about the collision points between work and life.
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