Tag Archives: quiet
Not everyone enjoys being in the spotlight. Finding a peaceful spot away from the hassle of the modern world – somewhere to quietly reflect, meditate and generally sort things out – can help soothe the troubled mind. But too often sounds, lights, schedules etc intrude. As the poet William Wordsworth wrote, ‘The world is too much with us.’
The figure in the photograph is a small sculpture of the Weeping Buddha. It is believed by some that the Weeping Buddha takes away the grief and troubles of the world. In return, he bestow peace and provides strength to those who rub his back.
Where to crop and where to place the focal point are decisions crucial to the effectiveness of every photograph, and I readily confess that I am often disappointed with my own previous choices.
In the case of the Weeping Buddha, below, I have chosen to place the figure towards the lower left corner. Freed from background clutter and noise, I hope the space behind enhances the atmosphere of meditation, quiet and solitude.
Interestingly, if the figure is transferred to the lower right corner he seems to be facing the world rather than isolating himself – praying for a wider community.
I had toyed with calling this post Fifty Shades of Grey, but the connotations of that title, following the notoriety of the best selling book, would defeat my purpose.
Grey is a much maligned colour, often referred to as dull and drab. In truth it can be a colour of great subtlety and calm. Even within the palest shades there can be a quiet, inner vitality.
Yesterday’s ‘Evening’ photo was taken in the Shetland Isles, the most northern part of the UK – so far north that in an atlas they usually appear in an inset box to indicate that they are further north than the scale of the page will allow. Below are three more pictures from the Isles. They capture an idyllic calm of water, rocks and sky.
We have a friend – an attractive, intelligent, caring, fun person. But she has one ‘fault’ I find irritating – and I’m not alone, I’ve seen other raised eyebrows – she cannot cope with silence. The slightest gap in a conversation has to be filled – not necessarily meaningfully, just filled.
What is it about silence that many people seem to find threatening? Do they feel lonely? Unwanted? Detached from the world? Are they afraid of being invaded by their own uncontrollable thoughts? Are they fearful of other people’s silence – what are ‘they’ thinking?
It is true that the world generally is becoming increasingly noisy. Research carried out at Sheffield Hallam University revealed that the noise level in Sheffield city centre had doubled between 1991 and 2001. Advances in technology have exacerbated the problem. In 2010 there were 130 working mobiles for every 100 people in the UK. It is virtually impossible to escape Muzac in shops, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants. Whether in the town or a country lane we are bombarded by the loud, throbbing bass emanating from a passing car.
Even in supposedly quiet places, silence is broken by the intrusive text message alert and one-sided mobile phone conversations. The stifled jangles of pop music escape from MP3 earpieces. The noise threshhold has risen insidiously.
Of course, there are orchestrated public periods of silence from time to time – notably on Remembrance Sunday and at sporting events as a mark of respect for some famous sports personality who has died. The silence of such large gatherings is often dramatic and moving and one marvels at the unified self-discipline and control of so many people. But silence is never a vacuum and it would be interesting to be privy to the thoughts and feelings of the individuals within the mass.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, during the first industrial revolution, the poet Wordsworth wrote:
‘The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.’
His words are just as apt for the beginning of the twenty-first century. We would do well to identify an oasis of silence in our daily routines; a brief period when we can be alone with ourselves.
Let us try an experiment. For just one minute, close your eyes so that you are relying only on what you hear. Sit perfectly still and remain totally silent. Try to remember any sound you hear – however quiet or however loud the sound may be – but remain perfectly still with your eyes closed. When the minute is up, open your eyes and try to recall all the different sounds you heard. Decide their source of origin – natural, manufactured, caused by people etc.
Repeat the experiment but this time recall the thoughts that passed through your mind during the silence.
There, now! That wasn’t at all frightening, was it? And maybe you enjoyed an experience you don’t regularly find time for.
See also The quiet moment