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I drove to the south of Western Australia, to get away from the noise.
The noise in my mind.
The sky is different in the south. The air is cleaner, the stars shine brighter, and the atmosphere beckons you to stop.
One evening, I was walking along the beach, a few hours away from home. The sky looked like a massive dome of never-ending blue. It was surreal.
A strange feeling swept over me.
In that moment, I felt like I was the only person on the earth.
I was alone, but not lonely.
It was dead quiet.
During this time of my life, I had been studying and working nonstop for a long time. My mind was checking out.
A cloud of anxiety hovered over me continuously, but I couldn’t slow down. I was afraid if I stopped—if I took a moment to just…stop—I would fall apart.
From a young age, I learned that silence and space—stillness—was a sign of laziness.
Growing up in a religious home, as the daughter of a preacher, we spent an abundance of time giving to the church. We gave, and gave, and gave.
I often craved alone time to draw, write, and play the piano. I felt guilty for wanting to close myself off from the world, and be in my own company.
Entering adulthood, I grew afraid of the silence. Of downtime, and of leisure.
I associated worth with achievements, and busyness. I gave my time to others and found it difficult to say no.
I made little space for myself to sit–and listen to my inner voice. Not his. Not hers. Not everyone else’s. Just mine, and my spirit.
I placed myself so far down the ladder; I was drowning in my own life.
As I stood on the beach, far, far away from home and anyone I knew, I realised what the problem was.
I missed myself.
I missed my soul.
I was alone—but not lonely. It was a strange, unfamiliar feeling.
As time passed I realised that I couldn’t keep going the way I was going. I needed to carve out room to be in the moment, and learn to embrace the quietness. In fact, it was a requirement if I wanted to allow my soul to guide me, more than my ego.
I made a conscious choice to slow down and declutter my mind, home, and life. I needed to breathe.
Unfortunately, it’s not smooth sailing when we decide to slow down.
At first—it feels good.
But then—boredom sets in.
Space sets in.
And the silence is so loud.
In the silence and space, we can hear everything we have been running away from.
Perhaps we steer clear of the unknowns, of nothingness, because we are avoiding something—on a soul level.
We need this—this transition, this gap, this embarkment into unfamiliar waters.
Taking time out to tune in can seem unimportant. We’d rather forge ahead.
Busyness and the rapid speed of life compensate us temporarily. We don’t have to acknowledge anything, we can simply tell ourselves we’re going somewhere. The past doesn’t matter.
There’s no time to stop.
Until we are forced to.
Until our mind gives way, and anxiety presses on every corner of our being.
Or we become ill.
Why do we keep pushing ahead when our soul is calling us home?
Why do we rush instead of remaining firmly grounded?
Why do we lose ourselves in others?
Why do we fill our time with endless activities and goals?
Why do we hold onto aspirations that are no longer serving us?
Why do we avoid listening to ourselves?
In our desire to escape and fill our lives up, maybe we sense, deep down, that this is not the life we want to be living.
Maybe we know the path we are on is not really for us.
Maybe we believe it’s too overwhelming, and uncomfortable to pause and look because deep down we’re afraid of what we may find.
>> Through a busy life, I was seeking accomplishment to say, “I am important” because I felt unseen, and unworthy.
>> Through fast-paced relationships, I was seeking love to say, “I am loveable” because I had not learned to love myself yet.
>> Through the inability to let go of what does not serve me, I was seeking approval to say, “I am not a quitter” because I couldn’t fathom being a failure.
In essence, I wanted to be loved, I wanted to matter, and I wanted to be important—to someone, to anyone.
Admitting these things to myself—not easy.
Everything I had been running from rose to the surface. Including the pain and discomfort of truths I didn’t want to admit to myself.
To choose a different course of action, to go against the grain, to sink into the abyss of the unknown while the world races ahead—is frightening.
We may discover that our drive in life is not fuelled by our soul, but our desire to avoid pain. Shame. Disapproval.
When we go within, it’s an opportunity to sit with discomfort, and feel it. To be truly honest about who we are, and the choices we are making.
Silence teaches us to listen, to hear, to be immersed in truth.
Silence teaches us that time is not meant to be filled.
Silence teaches us to embrace rather than turn away.
Silence reveals truths, motives, agendas.
Silence requires us to walk through the desert, the trenches, the dark nights of our soul.
Silence highlights our egotistic tendencies, our patterns, our defaults. It reveals the parts of us we struggle with. When we avoid looking and seeing, we would rather perform and ignore. We hope no one will see the real us, and instead be distracted by who we present ourselves to be.
The noise, information, the chase can be a symbol of what we are running from—it’s fuelled by fear, by anxiety, and by a lack of faith.
But really, it’s a diversion from truth, and from healing.
It’s a diversion from us showing up in this world as we truly are.
The person we fool the most though, is ourselves.
And that is why I chose to turn and walk toward the silence.
Because I was tired of running.
Running away from myself.