30 December 2011

Be still

I came across this recent NYTimes Opinion piece and found it quite insightful, especially during the Christmas holiday time leading up to New Year's Day when we are split between the frenzy of gifts and company and the reflection of resolutions and years-in-review.  This quote struck me in particular:
"When telegraphs and trains brought in the idea that convenience was more important than content — and speedier means could make up for unimproved ends — Henry David Thoreau reminded us that “the man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages.” Even half a century ago, Marshall McLuhan, who came closer than most to seeing what was coming, warned, “When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself.” Thomas Merton struck a chord with millions, by not just noting that “Man was made for the highest activity, which is, in fact, his rest,” but by also acting on it, and stepping out of the rat race and into a Cistercian cloister."

// Pico Iyer, "The Joy of Quiet," 29 Dec 2011
Perhaps this is a secular call to a Sabbath?

Being in graduate school in architecture has made the idea and practice of rest both one of my greatest longings as well as the greatest challenges to achieve when surrounded by pressures to be productive - every moment of every day.  Simply taking time out of the day to pray, to read a leisure book, to take a quick walk outside, to eat a full meal at the table with no distractions or multitasking - are challenges to the idea of "pressing on," but I've realized are disciplines that can make me more productive and less strained, if I choose to do them.

I still need to reflect on this past year and this past semester in particular, but one thing I know is that I don't want to repeat the anxious frenzy that characterized my fall, but remember the "joy of quiet" even in the midst of work and busyness for the spring.

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