Saturday, September 17, 2011

Turning Down The Noise

One of the things I most appreciate about our vacations is the space it provides for tuning out the extraneous noise of life and tuning in to what is more important. On our last three vacations not once did we turn on a television, even for a moment.  Instead, we talked to each other, read books together and spent time dreaming together.

Now, in all fairness, we have also “cut the cable” at home, relying on our Internet connection for news and entertainment. So for us this elimination of television is not a spiritual fast, but a significant lifestyle change. One thing I have noticed by this change in habit is that we are much more interruptable. There is none of that shushing each other so we don’t miss what is happening on the tube.

Perhaps there are other ways to achieve a level of peace and contentment as well. Here are some of the things we do.

  • We do not allow the telephone to rule our life. Often we check Caller I.D. for telemarketers before picking up the phone. Amazing how those folks never leave a voice message. I apply the same rule to my cellular phone – I have not developed the habit of texting, which I believe creates a false sense of urgency. I do understand the value, but it becomes one more intrusion into my inner world.

  • We also carefully consider outside commitments. So many things look appealing and interesting when you are part of a wonderful church community like Christian Assembly. Learning what to say “yes” to becomes a challenge. But if we are to have space for solitude and other spiritual disciplines we need to be mindful of our choices. Work, kids, spouses and friends will all contend for our time. Too many parents are tyrannized by kids’ outside activities. A good parent helps a child make choices and set good boundaries.

  • We do not shop as a form of entertainment. I often joke about how many people are at the “Church of the Holy Mall” every Sunday. It is a sad joke, though. As part of our commitment to simplicity, we try to limit our shopping mostly to essentials for life (books are essential, right?). It both helps us keep a budget as well as focus on what is more important to us.

  • We do not have any solo, all-consuming hobbies. This can become almost an obsession for some folks. We joke about “sports widows”, but often it is not funny to the lonely spouse. When does exercise become a narcissistic pursuit rather than a healthy one? Does our time at the gym squeeze out our time with God?

Perhaps you can add to my list. I would love for others to post ways in which you preserve sanity in your life and reduce the noise of living in this complex society.

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