Sounds of Silence

Posted by on Sep 15, 2011 in MFW, Teach

Last week was our September Media Free Week, our monthly break from social and mass media. My parents were visiting for the first part of the week, which actually helped us stay in the moment, and keep the media at bay quite well. Some of the things we did instead of consuming media:

  • Play Scrabble
  • Drive through the Champlain Islands
  • Tell a story, and listen to others at Anecdote Storytelling
  • Go for bike rides
  • Wander through our neighborhood-wide garage sale
  • Take a yoga class
  • Visit a friend with a new baby
  • Go for walks
  • Attend a talk on hawk migration at Shelburne Farms
  • Hang out on Mt. Philo
  • Watch the sun set
  • Knit a baby blanket

It really was a surprisingly easy week. We had some help: guests visiting, good weather, and some dates planned. Not all media fasts start so well-prepared.

Having had such a good break, I was surprised to find that this week was actually quite difficult. I have been distracted by media all week long, and finding it hard to concentrate. I do blame some of this on “baby brain,” as I’m getting into the home stretch. We have also had to attend a lot of baby-related appointments this week, giving us both some information overload. And lastly, although we no longer live in Baltimore, we had been following their primary election, as it was an opportunity for some major regime change. All this together created a noisy stream of ideas, opinions, and concerns that were difficult to turn off.

So what did I choose to do? I unplugged again.

Whenever I got totally overloaded, I just turned off the computer, the radio, or put away the papers, and stepped outside. Seeking silence, I sat on the porch and listened to the wind in the trees. Today I walked in the rain, letting the rhythm of the raindrops clear my thinking. Even just turning off the electronics, getting rid of that ongoing hum, and sitting at the kitchen table for a few minutes, helped me feel more together.

I’ve been using media all week, but taking deliberate breaks for several hours. The comparative silence has been comforting, and rejuvenating each time. It’s good to remember that while a sizeable fast can make a big difference, interrupting the pattern even for a short period of time can also be incredibly beneficial.

How can you take a break during your day?