Most everyone who had heard that I was reading Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence has responded with silence. This sort of crazy look comes over them and then they just shake their head and think, “well, that’s Kelly for you.”
But when I saw this book in the library, I was immediately intrigued. I feel super over-stimulated A LOT of the time. So much of my life enervates me, and I desperately just want silence. But reading Maitland’s book made me realize that I don’t want silence necessarily, what I want is a silencing of HUMAN noise. Nature is ok. So wind, birds, other animals, even the low rumble of the bee is ok by me. What I can’t tolerate is TV all the time, radio, cars, sirens, constant chatter, loud music in restaurants . . . you get my drift.
This was not easy reading but I plowed through the 290 pages and learned much about myself in the process. In a section on the desert hermits, Maitland writes about the discipline of the life they had chosen. She says that “at the heart of this discipline was silence; first external silence, fleeing the pressures of the social; then internal silence, peace of heart and mind, which could only come from the generous giving away of the self backed up by very hard work.”
This is what I’m looking for–a silencing of the external pressures plus what Thoreau would call simplicity. Thoreau argued that we should not calculate our wealth by how much we have or own but by how much free time we have. The less you own, the less you need, the richer you are. I am poor indeed but this is a problem I can fix.
I can downsize, give-away, and do without to gain real freedom and real wealth.