Stillness

Enjoy the natural lulls of life, they provide the best moments for growth.
Enjoy the natural lulls of life, they provide the best moments for growth.

As a younger person,  I often got impatient with what life was bringing. Hurry up! Let’s get to the next stage already.

Being impatient is one of the shortfalls of youth.  There are patterns in life and each has its purpose, as a young person I didn’t comprehend this problem. Life presents us

Quiet moments at dawn or dusk can provide more answers than many other experiences.
Quiet moments at dawn or dusk can provide more answers than many other experiences.

with many challenging circumstances, thrills, accomplishments, and disappointments.  With all the excitement it is important to find moments of mindful introspection, a relaxing lull in life.

A quiet period is a time life gives you a space to look around and take a breath or two.  Often times there is a lull period after any big moment, positive or negative,  where a person needs a chance to gather themselves before moving toward the next goal, adventure, challenge or life experience.

Unfortunately, in our society, the downtime is not appreciated or valued.  It is looked upon as wasted time or an unwanted time of emptiness. A time that could be spent doing something. We work to fill all of our moments with fillings of foolishness. Games, TV, movies or just music in the background all engage our minds and stop us from thinking. What are we afraid of?

It seems like we are afraid of the silence, because of what we might learn in its wisdom. The thoughts you have may lead to change but also to a greater appreciation for the lessons that you have learned and how to apply them to the life you have in front of you.

Reflection is am important part of learning. Take the time to reflect on what you experience.
Reflection is am an important part of learning. Take the time to reflect on what you experience.

Reflection is one of the most valuable things that I have taken from the lull periods of life.  Whenever there is an ending of any kind there is going to be a calm period. Sunshine after rain, tranquility after turmoil, it seems to be the gift of life. It may be only for a moment or it may be longer but the time should be used to evaluate and appreciate the situation that you have just gone through and process it to add value to your life.

Processing traumatic, emotional events can be difficult. It is always hard to get through the painful feelings to see the value of the experience. There is a value of sorts in any experience, as well as the chance to ignore it or embrace it.  Not all experiences are pleasant and warm, but that is not what life promises. Each thing we see, hear, and do is designed to allow us to learn something. If the same thing keeps coming to us, then there is something that we haven’t learned and need to get the message.  Much like a student needs to pass Algebra 1  before moving on to more complex math.  We need to learn certain lessons of life before we move on to something else, more complex or advanced.

Reflection is a time that I have learned to cherish. To look at even bad situations that are not enjoyable to find the lesson. It has always been there and if you don’t learn it now it will present itself again, later.  Before long you will be on to the next adventure of life and there won’t be time to look back appropriately and to find the answers.  When the calming times present themselves to you, take advantage and look for the meaning of the experience, ask the questions; What did I learn? How Was this valuable? What am I not seeing yet? Seek the motive in the situation, understand the movement of life around you, learn what you need to know to be the best version of yourself.

There is a lesson to learn about the relationship, the job, the trip, the climb, the project, the graduation, the birth, the death …………  In a moment of quiet, there are the answers that you are seeking. They are waiting in the ripples of a lake or underneath the rocks of a river or in the quiet of a moment. Take that moment and look for them. They provide a beauty to all of life that most people miss because they are too busy avoiding thought to look inside the stillness and understand the message that is living there specifically for you to hear.

Life is full of patterns, of “highs” and “lows” that are only different moments of mental intensity that allow for learning or understanding.  Many live their entire lives with questions, and never take the time to seek for the answers. Life makes a deal with us that there is always a reason behind it all.  In reflection and contemplation, it will be found, if you can recognize the lull and appreciate the silence and thought that it provides.

7 thoughts on “Stillness”

  1. Jon,

    Hope this finds you doing well.

    You started this piece by mentioning the different stages of life that we all go through and I have to share with you a new stage I find myself entering and the discoveries I am making.

    Believe it or not a few weekends ago I dropped my oldest son off for his freshman year of college. Yes it brought some good memories of our times together at school as well as the emotional reality that your child has reached that level of independence.

    You see as we talk about life stages I hearken back to stage after school and before parenthood. When time was a luxury not yet appreciated and future so bright we had to wear shades. During this stage I was listening to talk radio in the car and news channels at home. I could name most relevant political leaders, explain their stance on the current events, and even predict what was going to happen with the planks of the presidential campaigns.

    That was before the stage of life that included children. The stage of life that has brought so much happiness and so many blessings I will forever be thankful. You see during this stage of life I stopped learning about others lives and started living my own life. I knew the entire rundown on every kid channel out there, I made almost all of the practices and games, and on Sunday mornings I actually went to church rather watch the political talking heads regurgitating the same talking point on every channel.

    I share this and bring it back to the beginning about dropping my son off at school. As I now enter in to another stage, mind you one still with two teenage boys, I have been reverting back to some of my old ways from and earlier stage in life by getting re-engaged with some of the political landscape and what I am finding is very disappointing. The Presidential race will have to be saved for another time.

    The school my son is attending is starting a search for University President. As the school year kicks off they hold a open meeting with student and staff that is a kind of town-hall setting and open the floor for folks to make comments on what they feel should be the direction the search committee takes in looking for a qualified candidate.

    Many of the comments focused on the current growth of the University and how to keep the momentum going while others shared about a concern for the school to have closer ties to the community…….then it came….it hit me right between the eyes…the perspective that so many people have nowadays but often don’t dare speak it out loud.

    “For 140 years now our University has been lead by old white men, it is time for a change.”

    To much of the dismay of my wife I had to respond to the person doing the live Tweeting, I will get to the response in a minute, but just stop and think what a statement like this shows.

    First of all it is inaccurate so in addition to proving the limited thinking of this individual we also have confirmation of their loose comprehension of the facts. To be so ungrateful for the environment you as a student chose to gain your higher education and think that it all could have been so much better if the “old white men” had not held them back for 140 years is mind blowing.

    Did I mention this years Freshman class is the largest in the schools history and today they opened the new Student Center that cost $56 million dollars to build? Doesn’t sound like failure in my book.

    My response was simply, “Do you really intend to discount qualified candidates based on age,race, and gender?”

    I did not get a response, didn’t expect one.

    One of the phrases I keep thinking of is the “Intolerance of intolerance”.

    In this current political climate, especially on college campuses, it is accepted for this person to be intolerant of the people that created the thing they are benefiting from while yelling that everyone else must be tolerant of others. How did we get so one sided?

    I could go on for hours and maybe I do need to take some time and reflect as I enter into this new stage of life, but I have to tell you as I stand here today it is making me long for some earlier stages of life.

    The time in my life when I knew which animated movie was being released this weekend and not learning more about the thoughts of our next generation of leaders, at least the cartoons made me laugh rather than want to cry.

    Hope all is well and thanks for providing a platform for me to share my thoughts.

    Doug Coutts

    1. Douglas A. Coutts, Thank you so much for the response. I have been smiling since I read it, not because of the content which I will get to in a minute, but from hearing from you. Hearing from you is a connection to that time in my life when I was young, just out of high school and learning new things all the time. It may have been my tolerance for alcohol or how much junk food you shouldn’t eat, or how to get evicted from a house on Candlewick Terrace. : -) But I was learning and growing. I am connected to that person when I read your words and remember that time in my life and the great friends and adventures we had. That time in my life will definitely find its way into a story at some point. There were just too many good things. Like all things in life there was a beginning and an ending and we move on but the memory of the times and especially the people lives in my heart.
      Now I am feeling old that your own son is embarking on that journey. I am sure that you have prepared him the best you can and he is probably a lot better equipped to handle life than we were at that age. You are one of the best people I have ever met and been proud to call a friend, so I am sure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
      Politics, don’t get me started. The older I get, I find myself wanting to be further and further removed from the system that runs the country. It seems like money, corporations and special interest really control things. What you and I think and feel is of little consequence. I used to be a much more positive person in this realm, but looking at the current crop of presidential candidates, I see a lot more examples of the problems we face, rather than solutions. It seems both parties are simply looking for the least objectionable candidate. Sad really, we could use a Lincoln or a Kennedy or a candidate of quality, but are destined to be forced mediocre options. Just one man’s opinion here.
      As for political correctness and young people. I would caution restraint. I catch myself all the time when I am having a conversation with a younger person, saying, “When I was your age, things were different.” Yet I also know that there are more similarities than I care to admit. Remember how sure we were at that age. How much we knew. One of the penalties of youth is that your opinions and beliefs are being tested for validity each and every day. That person who reaps the benefit of an institution and then attacks the people who provided for it, is regurgitating a belief. Unfortunately, we don’t have any more insight into the life that created the original statement. He could feel helpless, perhaps his life he was dominated by a parent that was a rule maker, rigid, and inflexible. Who knows. I urge patience and understanding, we are all reliant on our personal experience and beliefs about life to find our happiness and truth.
      I could write all day. In closing, I would urge you to maintain the part of you that looked forward to animated movies and sharing things with your loved ones. Time goes by, things change, that is the inevitable flow of life. We ride the river and look for happiness where we can find it. I think that as you are moving into a new stage of your life, look for ways to grow, look for the things that light your fire inside. Pursue them. Growth is the energy that makes life such a great experience. A wise person once told me that in every moment we are either getting better or we are getting worse, we rarely stay the same. Get better.
      Thank you so much for the note, I hope it is not the last. I have rarely known a person who affected my life in such a positive way as you did. You were a great person, and better a great friend. I am sure that you were a great dad, great executive and great husband in your life. Your kids were fortunate to have you as a mentor and role model.
      What do you think you might want to grow into during the next phase of your life?
      Thank you my friend, hearing from you is a great experience. It makes me remember the good times and wish we stayed in closer touch over the years. I send all the very best to you and yours.
      Jonathan D. Hilton
      SMVTI Security Alumni

  2. i am impressed. I have been looking for the calm, but have failed to reflect in the midst of the calm. At the moment, our area is inside a wind storm-reflecting is a good thing to do.

    1. There is space between all events of life. There has to be in order for us to suck in a breath before we dive back down into another wind storm.Life gives us a chance to enjoy life always. Thank you Kris for the comment and taking the time to read.

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