“You gain wisdom only through solitude and quiet.”
I stumbled onto this insight recently as I watched a DVD lecture series from The Teaching Company, taught by University of Oklahoma professor J. Rufus Fears.
The course, Life Lessons from the Great Books, finds in many of our great literary works practical wisdom about life — the importance of admitting mistakes, the futility of vengeance, the value in seeking more adventure out of life, what it takes to be a great leader.
But the most eye-opening insight I took from the course’s 36 lectures was about the need for prolonged, uninterrupted quiet — to process, to reflect, to grow. And I wanted to share it with you.
The digital age is a mind-boggling conquest of human ingenuity, one I’m sure most of us are thankful for. There’s no denying that our mobile phones, iPads, DVRs and Internet access add considerably to the quality of our lives.
But Professor Fears points out that in modern society, many of us simply never turn these devices off, never fully unplug. We always have something on — our iPod at the gym, the radio in the car, a TV in the background. And this is to say nothing of the never-ending stream of digital communications we have to process, organize and react to — emails, texts, instant messages, voicemails, “friend” requests, etc. Our lives are often a constant wall of digital noise. And if we don’t stop the flow of inputs, the constant stimuli, when do we actually hear ourselves think? How do we process everything we’re taking in?
As we head into a new year, most of us are probably about to start a list of resolutions. If I could recommend one that you might not have considered, it would be to find more quiet time.
Turn it down. Turn it off. Sit quietly. And just think.
To a great 2014!