Most of us are accustomed to the harsh environment of the modern world.
Turn on the television, and talking heads scream and shout at and over each other.
Log on to the internet and countless, and I do mean countless, people hide behind their electronic devices, as they hurl obscenities at those they disagree with, often with no logical evidence to back up their opinions.
Go to the grocery store and people run into each other with their carts, in a hurry to get wherever they are going, with little to no patience for others who are shopping to nourish their bodies, or their family’s bodies.
Go to any understaffed business — restaurant, grocery store, drugstore, whatever — and watch as customers yell at overworked employees. These customers expect their needs (or, often more accurately, wants) to be met immediately and completely to their liking, regardless of the supply shortages or the slew of other limitations businesses face due to the pandemic.
Get stuck in traffic and watch as people slam on their brakes, lay on their horns, and extend finger gestures, which in the past — and still are not — fit for the eyes of children.
Walk down the street and encounter someone unashamedly wearing a T-shirt that simply says “(Expletive) your feelings.”
Do I need to go on?
I grew up in the 80s, a member of the so-called Generation X. I graduated from high school in 1990, and in the 31 years since, I am appalled at where we have traveled and where we stand in this moment in time.
A part of me is embarrassed to admit that, because it makes me feel like a closed-minded and out-of-touch person, the kind that looked at my generation and wondered what was wrong with us.
But there is something different and much more crass going on now, than the years I came of age. These situations I illustrated above originate with and effect people of all ages.
No one and nothing is off limits.
A friend and I were recently talking about an example of someone going into a hair cutting business, wearing a T-shirt with curse words on it like the one I mentioned above.
He pointed out even 20 or 30 years ago, that person would likely have been immediately kicked out of the business, for obvious indecency. Not because that person does not have freedom of speech, but because business owners would not tolerate that kind of impropriety in their businesses where people of all ages congregate.
But we are so desensitized to all of this, that we don’t even notice the chaos anymore.
We are numb, simply trying to make it from one day to the next, with no idea that a whole other way of being exists just on the other side of our intention and consciousness.
Let me tell you something you might not be aware of.
You do not have to live like this.
You can, at any time, decide you are no longer going to play this game.
You can consciously withdraw from the noise, and engage instead with the quiet wisdom that lies beneath all the chaos. You can find peace again, within you … and in the world YOU inhabit.
You can turn off the artificial noise, and choose to engage with those things that edify you, those things that color and beautify your soul.
You can go to the library or bookstore and pick out a book on anything educational that used to interest you, long ago, before the noise took over.
You can listen to your choice of music, which many identify as the language of the soul. Music has the capacity to evoke long-forgotten memories, to heal trauma, to generate creativity, to bridge great divides. (And don’t forget that much of the greatest and most beautiful music available to us was composed long before the 21st century, or the 20th century, for that matter).
You can get creative.
You can go in the kitchen and bake and cook all day.
You can paint or write, using spontaneous expression or with an intention to create something specific.
You can pick up your dusty guitar or flute, or open up your piano keyboard and make your own music.
You can play board games with your family.
You can go for a walk or a jog, on your own or with a friend.
You can go outside and be a part of the great web of life — your rightful place in this world — and listen, allowing THAT environment to effect who you are and who you become.
You can pray, meditate or sit in silence.
You can do any of these things, or all of these things, or something not on this list that speaks to your unique soul.
The possibilities are endless.
It might seem that we are all at the mercy of the misguided culture and society in which we live.
We are not.
You have the choice to live in an entirely different world, just by turning off all the noise.
· SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at email@example.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.