A Plea for the Right to Stillness

A place to be quiet, listen, be still, is not merely a solitary refuge from the noisy busyness of the world. It is not simply an absence of intrusion; it is in itself rich and full, a precious resource, fertile ground where we are informed, taught, reminded of the deepest knowings we require to choose carefully and live well. It is a place which, when the cacophonous clatter of civilization falls away, layers of quieter things reveal themselves, things within us always but rarely heard or recognized in the terrible speed of relentless necessity…. In the stillness of not moving or speaking, not running or planning, if we allow our eyes to soften and our gaze to alight on whatever color or event, if we listen without hurry or distraction, a world of invisible sounds and sights emerges, as from deep within a misty fog. Trees, the song of birds, wind rustling leaves, fragrances of earth grass flower, warm sun or cool rain on hand or cheek, a line of poetry recalled, the shape of a cloud, the smell of how this season emerges in this place, the feeling of breath, exhale. Without such stillness of attention, how can we ever possibly know what treasures surround us in every moment?

— Wayne Muller, “A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough”

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