For those of you that have been keeping up with my book club (which should be everyone), you are aware of the book I'm currently reading; "Quiet" by Susan Cain. This particular novel is actually taking me quite some time to get into, but it is a fascinating subject matter. The tagline of the book is "The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking". I usually consider myself an introvert...perhaps a lot of writers are! Writing is a pretty secluded thing to do. However, upon further analysis, I am probably closer to an ambivert (Geminis man). Reading this book, in association with my experiences this past week, I have become more acquainted with the power of nothing.
I haven't actually gotten super far in the book, but one of the quotes that I really like is, "in the United States conversation is about how effective you are turning your experiences into stories whereas a Chinese person might be concerned with taking up too much of the other persons time with inconsequential information". Basically, I read this to mean that people in America are all about the small talk... all of the filler words and phrases that make the silence less awkward. Talking for the sake of talking, and to make yourself seem more personable and likeable. I associate myself more with how the far east does it. I usually don't like saying more than I have to (unless I'm drunk of course...then I ramble). As a little kid, I was always labeled as shy or quiet. After lots of conditioning from people telling ME what I was, I sort of began to believe them and act accordingly. In recent years, I've learned that I'm actually not that shy at all! I just don't like talking to fill up the spaces. I talk when I have something important and of value to say. I speak to be consciously LISTENED to, and not just fleetingly heard. Isn't it crazy what outside influence can do to an impressionable person?
In another example of quietness, this week I had the lovely opportunity to work with an amazing artist, Guy Williams, by sitting for one of his figure paintings. When I was first asked to do this, I must say, I was a bit worried! Sitting still in one position for HOURS... not moving?? I'm the kind of person who has the tendency to get bored very easily, so it was definitely a difficult concept to grasp. I however agreed. It turned out to be pretty freakin awesome! Sitting still for hours actually isn't the worst thing in the world. It was quite lovely! It was sort of like a very long meditation session (which, in NYC is something very hard to actually make time for). It forced me into deep thought about a lot of different things going on in my life, in the world, in the universe even. The spots that I chose to stare at from time to time began to shift and become something deeper than what was originally there. I looked at things in such different ways after staring at them for hours. Maybe that's what it's like for the artist as well.
In addition to the sitting for the hours, another stipulation was me getting to the studio by 10am. Yikes! I am so not a morning person, at all! But I pushed through my comfort zone and made it there for those 3 days I came to sit. Afterwards, I had the rest of the day to do so much more since I had a bunch of energy for the sitting. It surprisingly turns out, that last week was a very productive week for me. It's a bit ironic seeing as I did...well...a bunch of nothing! The power of nothing is a pretty powerful thing that is often overlooked in this modern world of extreme overstimulation. Why do we feel as if the worst thing in the world is sitting still? Why do we feel we must speak to fill silences, as oppose to appreciating the delicacy of empty spaces?
It's hard to think that by doing LESS we can accomplish just as much, if not more, than by doing and saying a LOT of unnecessary things. I wrote a blog a while ago about how less is more, and I believe this is sort of the same concept. In the book Quiet, it talks about how society has built up the idea of the extrovert as being superior to introversion. Being extroverted and having an exuberant personality is praised over being a more quiet and reserved type. I'm not saying that one is better than the other, but I will say that silence at times can speak volumes in its own regard. Don't be afraid to just...shut up every once in a while! Dedicate a day to just being completly still. Do... nothing. Take a minute to gather all of your thoughts and feelings about the situations going on in your life. Coming out of the silence can prove to be such an enlightening experience.
p.s. Sitting for hours did have one slight downside. You'd think that a certain pose is comfy until you have to hold it for a long time. All I did was sit in a freakin chair! But anything can become painful after a while.
p.p.s. I haven't been to yoga in a while, but it's a pretty good way to do a bunch of nothing for a while, yet come out feeling totally invigorated.
p.p.p.s. This past week, the amazing Prince passed on to a much better place. I will say this about him, he was actually a pretty quiet type in his ordinary life. The things he DID chose to say, the people listened. That is how I would like to be.