Friday, June 18, 2010

Fletch Blocking Out The "Still, Small Voice"

I read an interesting article today in Harvard Business Review (wow, that makes me sound kind of intellectual doesn't it? :). In any case, the piece was written by a Peter Bregman, entitled "Why I Returned My iPad". And what was the reason?

It didn't take long for me to encounter the dark side of this revolutionary device: it's too good.
It's too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. Certainly there are some kinks, but nothing monumental. For the most part, it does everything I could want. Which, as it turns out, is a problem.

The problem, as it turns out, is that he wants his boredom back. And why?

Being bored is a precious thing, a state of mind we should pursue. Once boredom sets in, our minds begin to wander, looking for something exciting, something interesting to land on. And that's where creativity arises.
My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I am running but not listening to my iPod. When I am sitting, doing nothing, waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling to sleep. These "wasted" moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital.
They are the moments in which we, often unconsciously, organize our minds, make sense of our lives, and connect the dots. They're the moments in which we talk to ourselves. And listen.

To lose those moments, to replace them with tasks and efficiency, is a mistake. What's worse is that we don't just lose them. We actively throw them away.

It struck me that, far from the purpose of needing to "be bored" we also need the time to listen to God, like Elijah hearing God in the "still, small voice". We all need time-out in this busy world to talk to God and to listen to what He might be saying to us. How can we if we're surrounded by technology - always rushing here and there and working constantly before jumping onto the internet or watching TV, and now, using our iPads which will be within constant reach. If we're not careful, technology can become an idol which the enemy can use to distract us away from the things of God and lead us to give ourselves to the things of the World.

There was a poll up on YahooXtra today asking the question, "Would you be sad at the loss of technology?" The results at the time of writing are -

I expect the people who couldn't live without technology are more likely to be the younger voter in the poll. As for the author of the Harvard Business Review article, Peter Bregman, he has a new routine now -

Around the same time I returned my iPad, I noticed that my eight-year-old daughter Isabelle was unbelievably busy from the moment she got home from school to the moment she went to bed. Bathing, reading, playing guitar, eating dinner, doing homework, she was non-stop until I rushed her off to bed. Once in bed she would try to talk to me but, worried about how little sleep she was getting, I would shush her, urging her to go to sleep.

We have a new ritual now, and it really has become my favorite part of the day. I put her to bed 15 minutes earlier than before. She crawls into bed and, instead of shushing her, I lie next to her and we just talk. She talks about things that happened that day, things she's worried about, things she's curious or thinking about. I listen and ask her questions. We laugh together. And our minds just wander.

Sounds like he rediscovered the important things. I remember someone asking a group of people a question - if you had $1440.00 given to you everyday that you had to spend - you couldn't hoard it, you had to spend it that day - what would you spend it on? We are all given 1440 minutes every day - valuable time - and it's up to us as to what we spend it on.

3 comment(s):

KG said...

Just one of the reasons we have no TV and no radio in this house. We have time to sit with a glass or two and just chat, covering the day just past, memories and plans and random thoughts.
It's the same when we're travelling--no radio or CD player on in the car, we talk instead.
Some people where we work have said the two of us seem to have a "psychic connection" but it's nothing so fancy--we've simply taken the time to enjoy one another's company and get to know ourselves and each other.
But lots of people can't live without noise and distractions, silence makes them uneasy and then those who can afford it pay good money to attend meditation sessions...

Anonymous said...

I've lived a lot of alone quiet times. I didn't use stimulants, TV, radio or i-tools simply because they didn't interest me, not through the disdain bred of familiarity. Music, reading... whatever... it adjusted my emotional state and distracted me from my work. I hate to burst the bubble of people looking for next feel-good fad, but god/perfection/life doesn't reside in the quiet and avoid the noise. Omnipotent is the word, and if there was a message for you personally, you'd hear it. There is no secret to hearing, you don't need to make yourself quiet. You don't have to earn it or give something up to get it. Sometimes, when you have the time to stop, there is just plain nothing - and it goes on for as long as you like. Don't waste your time trying to live your life. Just live it.

I.M Fletcher said...

x, that may be so for you but I think it is hard to commune with God when you're rushing about and distracted by other things. The relationship between God and man is just that - a relationship. What would happen to our earthly relationships if we didn't spend quality time with those we cared about? Just being around someone in the same house is not the same; ask any couple working and raising a couple of kids.

If they didn't spend some alone time together, their relationship would die. It is the same with God.
We only have to look at Jesus' relationship with his Father. The Bible says he often went to solitary or lonely places to pray.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed - Mark 1:35

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed - Luke 5:16

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. - Luke 6:12

I'm not saying you can't pray when you're doing something else; in fact, I am sure it is good. But if Jesus needed to take time away to pray and recharge in a silent place, do we not need to as well?

Coming back to the example of family, could you build upon a relationship with someone while organizing dinner with shouting kids etc etc. In a way, maybe, but you still need that time alone to talk to one another and share your intimate thoughts and feelings.

I'm not saying I am good at this. I do not spend enough time praying, myself. But I do recognize the need.

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