Life in Progress: A weblog by Heidi Price
5/17/2006

The silence

Though cell phones and walkmans are allowed, I decided to leave all my "gear" - my laptop, my I-pod and my cell phone - at home.

Less than an hour inside the Abbey of Gethsemani, the first thing I noticed was the silence and how much it differed from the world I just left.

Our days are filled with noise, did you ever notice? The radio when we wake up, talking on phones while driving to work, talking while being at work, talking on cell phones, on work phones, on phone phones. Talking. Talking. Talking. Background noise is so essential to our day, we even pipe it in at the grocery store and on elevators.
The visual noise is no less intrusive. We get it on our computers, our televisions, on billboards, even toilet stalls are plastered with advertisements.

So in not talking, in not plugging into any of the technology-fueled chatter that provides the soundtrack to my day, I had no choice but to listen, to pay attention to the internal soundtrack.

It was a din, a flood of messages telling me to do more, buy more, earn more, read more, write more, work harder, relax more. I could barely sort them out, let alone listen.

So after three days of what was supposed to be silence, I left the abbey, driving away from the Kentucky hillsides. I returned home Sunday night with an idea, not a directive or an order, just an idea. First, I wanted to sort through these messages, throw out the bad ones, keep the good ones and, every once in a while, I hope to quiet them a bit.

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