Much of human history is peppered with a notion that when we don’t understand the unknown, we become defensive, fearful and hesitant. Granted the opposite is also true; we can become bold, curious and willing to take a chance. There’s a dichotomy between assumptions and reactions. The sentiments in the plaque attest to these notions. Just where you straddle this dichotomous line depends on how you define yourself.
A commencement address given a few years ago might shed some light on my post. It was delivered by Tim Minchin, an alum of the University of Western Australia. His career path is one created by an awareness for all things sentient. Minchin reminds me of my own college journey in liberal arts; I found such great value in what and how you feel in terms of art, music, literature, philosophy and all those disciplines of study that pre-dated this notion that mindfulness and empathy and emotional intelligence are somehow new constructs of our modern, western world.
In his comments, his last 3 points made in impression of sorts:
#7) define yourself with what you love, not what you hate; #9) respect people with less power than you, and #9) don’t rush…
Are you leaning more to one side or the other of that dichotomous line…?
In less than a week, the northeast USA got hit with another storm. While many are so tired of winter, many more are really done with snow and the cold and wanting spring to arrive. Now.
With close to 10 inches [25 cm] of wet, heavy, snow falling overnight, the next morning did not disappoint for people like me.
With nothing but stillness and silence all around me this morning, I thought of Dan Gurney, an incredible achiever by any standard, who said something to the effect of, “If you see something and can make it beautiful, but choose not to, what does that say about you?”
Vertical dimensions and shapes provide seminal perspectives. The Bay of Fundy is such a place to feel them. It claims to have the highest tidal range on the planet, on average rising and falling 56 feet [17 meters], twice a day.
While the tides run relatively constant, the power of moving water creates an impermanence to the landscape. The land changes albeit slowly. And of course, we physically change too, though on a timeline far shorter than these “monuments.” These amazing structures will outlast me, which is to say they’ll still deliver an enduring perspective to others who might be standing on the very spots when I took these photos.
In winter, afternoon light can be very strong, very intense. From 13:00 to 15:30, I chase light and though I love winter, there are just some days when I sense a foolhardy notion to get outside. However, on those days, the sensible part of me says to chase the light indoors.
Summer vacation is a staple for one’s own sense of stability. In most cases, one or two days I’m doing work—either by choice or a directive from someone who signs the checks—even though it’s work I try to avoid from usurping vacation days. At the C-level of management, there’s always a part of your vacation that is, indeed, a “working vacation.”
Anyway, I make the effort to still my mind and settle the angst of all that is life. It’s not always related to work as there are things in life that can be much more demanding of time, energy and other resources.
I posted an article on my LinkedIn page, “A Short Guide to Finding Quiet,” and this post is related to that article. However, what I’m sharing here is far more personal. There are places that are quiet and then there are really quiet places, the kind you savor and want to bottle for another day.
Living in New England means you’re never far from the ocean. I like that. The sea air has therapeutic properties, but when coupled with with the kind of quiet that only Nature can produce, well, then the properties take on added qualities, qualities that make you breathe deeper, think slower if not kinder and move about in less harried fashion.
The sounds of a breeze cutting across tall sea grass, the distant cry of a gull, the “wooshing” sound of water rolling onto the beach, the rthymic slapping of a wake against the side of a boat. All are folded into “sea air.”
If your summer vacation isn’t near the ocean, then I’m sure there are quiet places that are unique to wherever you’re headed. You can make them your own too.