SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 144: “The Power Of Silence”

“Chin Up and eyes open to the world,” my self-proclaimed resolution to change the way I look at life, and the genesis that has propelled me to commit to my 365 challenge.

We’ve heard, “If you do something repetitively for thirty days it will become a habit.”

That applies to getting hooked to both the best and worst of habits. When you think about, it really is our choice of the addictions we pursue. And, for the sake of setting a tone that relates to the discussion I have with today’s strangers, now friends, a sweet family of three, Behnam, Corinne and daughter, Jasmine, I give you an abbreviated history of my addictions.

The 80s put copious amounts of silly stuff into my body, and in retrospect, taught me the importance of sleep, something that I lacked in those club-hopping years.

The 90s. I lovingly call them, “The years of iron.” Yep, I became a daily gym rat, and through it, developed brick crushing arm guns and pectorals of steel; the building blocks to the back issues that I so happily accept in my current wiser years, and better yet, the foundation to the harassment that I so enjoy directing toward my fun loving mother-in-law, who upon first accepting me as the man dating her daughter, chimed in with this comment to my now wife, “He has great arms.” I don’t know?… are mother-in-laws supposed to say that kind of stuff?

And who can forget the first ten of the 00s, I call them, “The grow up and healing years.” For me to list what we all endured throughout them would take up the pages of a novel, but if I were to think of one addiction, it would have to be business.

The second decade of the new millennium? Well… we are in it, and more than ever, the choices of addiction are vast. At the private click of a smartphone we can instantly find habits that have the potential to propel us forward to greatness, or influence us towards behaviors that have the seductive strength to slam us to our knees; even choices that, depending on our mastery in controlling them, have the power to either enlighten our world, or to throw us into the deepest depths of isolated darkness. And all are choices that are ours to select, monitor and apply in our lives. Choices that are not only made by our own intellects, but choices that are often boldly influenced by the society and media around us, and being in the advertising, entertainment and communication industries myself, I know the system works.

Trust me, I am not bagging on the media system, I wholly support the first amendment and am at the front of the line to fight against censorship, but in the midst of it, I do lobby for balance. A good friend of mine once stated, “If there are not good people in the industry, it would be all darkness.” Her statement is resonant to the importance of both light and dark content. In my opinion, without both we would have no grounds to make informed decisions.

But here is the thing, and very lateral to the discussion I have with Behnam and Corinne – as individuals we all have the power to influence the positive, even in the midst of chaos. And for the sake of chaos, we’re going to pick on technology and its influence on the minds of the future.

Corinne facilitates our conversation with this statement, the start of her, and Behnam’s, very wise counsel, “Remember the power of silence.”

She explains, “We live in a world today that is full of noises, ever evolving digital technologies and interactive media, and a planet full of other things that clutter our minds each and every day. And, in order to find true meaning and authentic life purpose, we have to filter through so much noise.

“We have to shuffle through not only layers of sound, but also layers of visual pollution and pollutions of others attitudes towards one another.

“We have to go back to understand the power of silence (Corinne asked me to boldly highlight this title).”

Both Corinne and Behnam are passionate about the premise. They introduce it with purpose. Per Corinne, “It’s not like going into a room and closing the door; it’s really a silence from deep within; a silence of mind that we really have to find.”

So where do they come up with this principle of silence?

Corinne smiles at Behnam as he kicks in, “We were just having this conversation today as we drove here. (by the way, we are between classes at our kid’s drama class). We were talking about Facebook and its ability, for many, to serve no apparent purpose.”

The power of silence… this phrase was created today by Behnam and Corinne as they were driving, and my understanding of what they are trying to say goes something like this: “Influences that so often capture us into misdirected thinking, stalled personal progression, or overly opinionated and calloused isolation.

We talk of the responsible and positive aspects of new-media and of responsible use of their ability to reach far into the world. But our topic of concern is for the people who rely upon it as a replacement for living in the real society. It saddens all of us as we discuss the messages we’ve seen from so many that see it a replacement for humanity and lean on it as a real place, getting caught up in the noise of its influence.

We’ve all been guilty of loosing ourselves to our flat screens and keypads. In a way, I’m doing it now, but am acutely aware of its snares.

In a way, 365 is saving me. Sure, I publish it in the electronic world. And you know what, I have no regrets. We’ve made friend from around the globe and it is becoming a movement that I, as I have often said, will continue to claim, “It is beyond me now.”

But here is the balance as so acutely brought to us today through Corinne and Behnam. They say something that puts 365 into perspective. First, I’d be a liar to say, “I am not enjoying writing this blog.” It’s been a very edifying experience. Yet, I am striving to do my best to not make it a meaningless throw-up of words for my self-edification. As explained by Behnam, who quotes, “Using Facebook to just be heard.”

My hopes are that it reports on real world organic experiences of people who are teaching us about empathy.

Behnam perspective, “We all need to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, but are we willing to do it, to truly push to become empathetic? That is the key to a better understanding of people and of our family.”

The power of silence…. The internal fortitude to look beyond the bombardment of information and, as Corinne calls it, noise.

The power to look… better yet, listen, to not only your inspired self, but to those around you. And in doing so, as Bahnam proposes, ‘To truly push to become empathetic.”

I’m certain the future of technology will still ramp up, we’ll be deluged with content, visuals and on-line experiences. Our challenge… to find our silence… to participate in the world… to get out and take part in planet earth.

In the words of Corinne, “It may prove what love really is.”

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