Paul Wilson: Find Some Silence This Thanksgiving

silence-is-goldenThis week, millions will gather with family and friends for the annual feast of Thanksgiving…

They’ll join hands around the table and give thanks for the abundance we all have been blessed with. Almost without exception, those of us with the least even have so much more than our brothers and sisters around the world who have, comparatively speaking, almost nothing.

At the same time, many of us will miss the underlying philosophy behind the day,  having been lulled into thinking it’s little more than the Macy’s parade and our once a year excuse for a tryptophan over dose and endless football games.

While Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day come but once a year, we need to learn to properly celebrate, give thanks and tell those we love that we love them – and not just on those holidays, but each and every day. It’s a matter of learning to live in a spirit of love with an attitude of gratitude.

The biggest enemy to us not doing that on a daily basis?

Noise; plain and simple.

Father Richard Rohr said it best; “Probably more than ever, because of iPads, cell phones, billboards, TVs and iPods, we are a toxically overstimulated people.”

He’s right.

We no longer know what to do with the silence we desperately need. We need to reconnect with ourselves, our family and the core of who we are. That’s hard to do amidst the noise and restlessness of daily life; and almost impossible if you live, as he described; “toxically overstimulated.”

Mother Teresa said, “God is the friend of silence. See how nature, trees, flowers, grass grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

simon-garfunkelToday, silence is nothing more than something that occupies the space between everything else we do; a rare commodity.

Take this holiday season to reflect in that silence, the gifts we are given and most of all, our families. As I approach this holiday, it’s with the knowledge that it was going to be spent with my extended family at my mom’s home in Springfield. That’s our family’s tradition; it’s what we do every year. That is, until we unexpectedly lost her 4 weeks ago.

I took that tradition for granted and now it’s gone.

The world of silence isn’t an easy place for many of us to be; it’s not normal, it’s not where we feel we belong. We struggle to fill every available moment of our lives with noise; activities we often don’t need to participate in, places we don’t need to go, meetings we don’t really need to attend.

It only takes one look at my planner to see how badly I avoid the silence; jam packed days, one after another. I’m a writer, an artist, I have a day job, I’m a husband, a dad, a step dad and a friend. When I finally do go to bed at night, I set my sleep timer for 45 minutes so the news plays as I go to sleep. Before my feet hit the floor each morning, my smartphone goes off at 5:30 am, streaming my favorite talk show. It follows me to the shower and plays while I’m getting ready; all in an effort to avoid the silence.

Shut-up And EAT!Silence isn’t easy to trust; silence is where we are alone with our thoughts.

Father Rohr goes on to say, “The ego gets what it wants with words. The soul finds what it needs in silence. The ego prefers light—immediate answers, full clarity, absolute certitude, moral perfection, and undeniable conclusion—whereas the soul prefers the subtle world of darkness and light. And by that, of course, I mean a real interior silence, not just the absence of noise.”

Silence is a luxury item we need to seek out in life, not something we fear. And we need to find peace in that silence. As we enter this holiday season, promise yourself to turn down the noise and tune in to those around you; the things and people that really matter.

Learn to live at least part of each day outside of the noise and in the silence. It’s a far happier place to be than you might suspect and you just may find a better version of yourself.

Life changes in the blink of an eye; take the time this Thanksgiving with family and friends and truly give thanks. And in doing so, find some silence.

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14 Responses to Paul Wilson: Find Some Silence This Thanksgiving

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart
    Without saying a word, you can light up the dark
    Try as I may I could never explain
    What I hear when you don’t say a thing

  2. Jewitt says:

    Couldn’t agree more, P. Well, except for that part where you called silence a “luxury.” By definition, a luxury is something we can do without possessing. Silence is so much more.

    God bless you and your family. I know Thanksgiving won’t be the same without your Mom.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Jewitt, you raise a good point I obviously didnt think through completely. In the true definition of the term luxury, you’re right. I guess I attached the word more to something close to priceless we just can’t seem to get enough of. Optional, though, no; you are totally correct.

  3. Trish McReynolds says:

    Well said, Paul. Silence is the gift I give myself for I have found silence is to the soul what oxygen is to the body.
    May your Thanksgiving be blessed.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Thanks, Trish, same to you and Norman, down South. Appreciate your comments and friendship.
      I’m trying to make more room for that in my world, theres no one worse than me at trying to fill every moment with some noise. I wrote this piece for ME, hoping I would learn something from it when I read it!

      • Trish McReynolds says:

        Good writers always talk to themselves by getting their thoughts and feelings on paper…and you qualify ! As you decrease the “doingness”, you’ll discover the “beingness” gets much better.:)

  4. Libertarian says:

    I work so much that if I sit still in the silence for more than 20 minutes, I fall asleep.

    In silence, I am able to hear the simple necesseties of life-the refrigerator humming as it keeps my milk from spoiling; the Kenmore on the spin cycle; the pendulum of my wall clock ticking off the seconds of my life; and that pesky little gnat, wishing to explore the confines of my ear.

    Well Paul, you just made me thankful for the little silence there is in my life.

    Happy Thanksgiving folks.

  5. chuck says:

    Very nice Paul, hope you and yours have a joyful Thanksgiving.

    A short note. Today, I ran wire and hung some big lights in a business on 31st St. that assembles and sells wheelchairs of all sizes for people in the metro. Really nice folks, it is a heck of a busy place. I was astonished at how many wheelchairs were heading out the door and asked one of the guys why it was so busy. How could there be THAT many para and qudraplegic folks out there needing these very sophisticated expensive wheelchairs? He said he drops off at least 3 a day at Children’s Mercy, but a lot of them are for broken legs and garden variety injuries. I asked how many folks are crippled seriously and need the high dollar chairs that react to head movement, or one finger, or eye blinks. He said about a dozen a month and he was taking one to a family whose little boy just lost his legs (I am not going to tell you how this happened, it is hard to comprhend it.) .

    Man do I have it good. I woke up today thinking about some sh*t heel in Mission Hills who is slow paying me and had a hell of a bad attitude. I bitched at my co workers and complained to my friends. I am an idiot. My family is healthy, my fridge is full and people call me to work for them all the time.

    It gets even better, my buddy Paul, tells me if I shut up altogether, I will be even happier. I am gonna do that and say some silent prayers for those folks, who this Thanksgiving have found themselves on the down side of advantage and don’t know where to turn. Those folks who have lost a loved one who won’t break bread this Thursday. Those folks making calls to companies who make wheelchairs for a family member. Those folks who have to remember how great Thanksgiving used to be, but won’t be this year.

    God Bless.

  6. Mary Patton says:

    You just made me realize how truly blessed I really am! I actually enjoy many hours of peaceful silence every day. I think it is one of the reasons I prefer working evening shifts. I get off at 1 or 2 in the morning when many are asleep, I turn on my lava lamps, light a stick of incense, pour me a little wine, play with my kitty, read a book or watch a good movie or something on PBS. I do not have to rush to go to bed early, I can take my time and enjoy my solitude. It is the perfect complement to a day spent dealing with the public. I have learned that happiness comes not from owning lots of stuff, but rather, from appreciating the gifts one already has – friends, family, pets, and the beauty of the world around you.

  7. Geri Wurth says:

    Hi Paul,

    Lovely, lovely piece. Did not know you were a fan of Father Richard Rohr. He’s the real deal. But then, so are you.

    You are so right that silence is an antidote, a solace, a ground of being. But people don’t realize it; I’ve only begun to.
    Thank you for your words of inspiration and heart.

    And bless you and yours on Thanksgiving.

    : ) Geri

  8. Veronica says:

    I loved this. Very nice peice. Sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing this. I really needed this. I have a sick loved one this holiday season. Maybe I can impart some of this wisdom.