My roommate has taken on a huge shift in lifestyle for her 40 day Lenten journey. It’s a zen monasticism project that requires a strict diet, daily mediation, a conscious awareness of self, and various other impositions on the daily routine. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it in its entirety, but I decided to pull certain aspects from it that I thought might enhance my Lenten experience. One of those is daily journal writing, which will manifest itself, at least in part, in the form of this blog, but another is a challenge that I have chosen to take on every Monday for the remaining weeks of Lent–it’s called modified silence.
On Mondays, observe modified silence. That is, speak only when necessary and when you speak, be aware that you are speaking and that it is necessary to speak. This includes email, texting, and any other kind of communication. You should only respond to necessary (probably work or class related) messages.
I made it until about lunch time until I messed it up. Then I tried to start over again and failed miserably when I got home and had an hour long phone conversation with Connor. Now I’m sitting in the living room typing this in the company of my roommates and wondering why it is that I so desperately feel the need to have a conversation about government lobbyists.
Anyway. Despite my failings in practical silence, the few hours during which I managed to succeed taught me a valuable lesson in recognizing what it is that you’re putting out into the world. For every moment that I wasn’t speaking, I was realizing the things that I wanted to speak about, and a large majority of them were much more negative than I would like to admit. It’s kind of sad to think about how much breath I waste on complaining and griping and criticizing other people, and I wonder how much more productive I could be if I took all of that negative energy and focused it on something more productive in my life.
If I never make it a full day without unnecessary speaking, hopefully I will at least manage to modify my thoughts to avoid unnecessary negativity.