By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
I have found over the past 12 years of being involved with Athens Now that the idea of leaving this column blank and paying for the publishing of a completely empty piece of paper in the midst of other brightly colored pages is tempting. It’s not because I am trying to be a brat or trying to start a trend such as “pet rocks” from years ago; it’s that the older I get, the more I enjoy that rarest of commodities, silence. And I am guessing that you may feel that way, too, at least from time to time. True silence, the kind where you can hear your blood circulate in your ears, is nearly non-existent these days. I don’t need much of it, I just know that it can be a gift. And I guess the great irony is that I am not exactly known for being a woman of few words.
I am someone who believes in a lifestyle of learning that never quits. I also believe that when you lose the desire to learn, something dies inside. I am not talking about the negative example against which we are warned, i.e. “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth,” I mean the kind of learning that is born out of wonder and may or may not inspire speechlessness.
I try to make a point of observing something out of nature on a nearly daily basis that evokes a sense of what I just described. I think that most often, birds do the trick. Birds in flight. How do they know to take off all at once and then land all at once? How do they know how to swoop, dive, and then line up by the hundreds on a telephone wire or in the branches of just a few trees? How do geese know how to rotate the leaders while in flight so that they share the effort it takes to run (or in this case, fly) point on a V-formation so as to avoid exhaustion? How do they know to fly in a V-formation in the first place?
To me the answer is obvious: they are no accident, they were created, and so were we. And, as simplistic as that may sound, I think that when we take time to think, to get silent for maybe only a moment, or perhaps just to observe, then that sense of wonder is, if you’ll allow me, wonder-fully restored.
So, seeing as the sworn duty of Athens Now is to inform and inspire, and we have been blessed to be able to do so all over the world, I am suggesting that we all take the time to get so quiet that we can hear our heart beat. And if we get so quiet that we can listen and hear our own hearts beat, maybe we can develop the skill of getting so quiet that we can “hear” each other’s hearts beat as well. It certainly can’t hurt.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner