Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Relishing Silence



By Erica Stewart, CVN Recruiter

A few months ago, as I prepared for my interview to become a recruitment associate, I read recruiter Caitlin’s blog post about living simply on the road. Besides the excitement of what the position could bring me in the few months following my year of service, her commitment to simple living while traveling left an impression on me. Once I was accepted for the position, I always kept that blog post in the back of my mind.

During my travels, I was able to visit both my high school and college alma maters, Northwest Catholic (NWC) and Stonehill. During my visit to NWC, I spoke with senior students about service opportunities and the four common themes of faith-based volunteer service (which are similar to the Dominican pillars). We discussed the meaning of these pillars in our lives and I explained how they were redefined for me personally during my year of service. Of the four pillars, I had the most difficulty adjusting to simple living at the start of my year, about which I was perfectly honest with the students with whom I spoke. Especially after finishing college, where the common mentality is “these are the best years of your life so you have to take advantage of everything now,” learning to live only on what you need was a challenge, to say the least. A student from NWC made a brilliant comment when I discussed the manifestation of simple living and the slow growth of the contentment it would bring to my life: it’s not a year-long commitment, these are values that stay with you forever. My commitment to live simply did not end when I boarded my plane home on July 14th. In fact, it started a new chapter. It would still be there, but obviously it would be different depending on what I chose to do next in my career, relationships, and those I served.

During my time on the road, I have frequently thought about how I can live simply. Sometimes it’s by taking a walk, only drinking tap water from my reusable water bottle, or taking the afternoon to be technology-free with a book outside. My newest goal came to me when driving to Boston for my most recent fair circuit. I am from the Northeast, which, especially in comparison to other parts of the country and the world, is…fast-paced. We talk fast, walk fast, and work fast. This certainly has its advantages: we get tasks done quicker, we’re commonly early, and we are very driven to our own personal successes. On the downside, to others outside, we’re mean drivers, we bump into you as we sprint down the sidewalk, and when we ask “how are you” we typically don’t wait to hear your answer.

Forgive the stereotyping, because I am very aware that everyone from the Northeast does not act like this. However, take it from someone who has driven a lot in the last few weeks around the country, people in Massachusetts do not drive like people in Texas. Unfortunately, I frequently succumb to a weakness while driving some like to call “road rage.” When you cut me off, I’m mad. Thankfully I have enough self-control to not throw around vulgar hand gestures to you, but I will mutter (or yell, depending on the day) some not-so-nice words about your behavior.

But of course, we all have our weaknesses, and one of mine happens to be reacting quickly in moments of stress without thinking. So I have decided to try something new. Instead of flipping through the stations that only play the music stylings of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, I will either listen to the news or drive in silence. When was the last time you truly sat in silence? No music, no television…just silence. Especially in such a transient job as the one I have, I need that time to recharge. In a time of constant movement as well as transition from my year of service to this position to whatever comes next, silence allows me to slow down for a moment and remember why I am doing this and to truly listen to what God is calling me to do (which honestly seems to change with every passing day, oh the woes of a 20-something).

I challenge you to give yourself some moments of silence in your day. Turn off your television, silence the cell phone, and relish in the sound of silence.