You know the ageless question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it make any noise?” Well, here’s my somewhat, but not really, related question, “If we sit in complete stillness, solitude, and quiet for one minute, then an hour, then a full day, and then an entire week, will we make a difference?“
Before I answer these questions from my perspective, please allow me a few sentences to explain why I am asking it. Many of my previous articles reference my wife’s and my intentional decision to simplify, downsize, and let go of nearly everything we own. Our overriding intent is to be detached from any significant fiscal responsibility so that we can inspire love, joy, and positive vibes, wherever we feel called to serve on this earth. As a result of our new lifestyle, when we are in the U.S., we rent a small 1-room apartment and have no responsibility for things like a yard, house, lawn, animals, etc. While we both work to meet what financial needs we have, we, all of a sudden, have more free time than we have had since our childhoods. We have not ‘retired’ but we have reduced, reorganized and re-prioritized things like chores, social obligations, ‘work,’ and other obligations that took time every day.
So, here I am, on a Saturday, on a beautiful Maine island, staring at the bay while soaking in the sun. If I sit here all day, and then the next, and then dare to go 3 days in a row, in solitude and silence, will I make a difference on this earth?
You see, there is a little battle raging inside of me right now. There is part of my that says I need to DO something to make a difference. I should go volunteer somewhere. I should clean. I should work more hours. I should, I should, I should.
There is also part of me that dares to be different, that dares to sit still, that dares to be quiet, that dares………well, to stare into nature and dares nature to stare back. It’s a ‘stare down’ I love—the one between nature and me. And, really, it’s not a stare down. It’s not competitive. There is not a winner like the ‘who blinks first’ contest we had in 7th grade.
It’s communication. It’s nature and my soul communicating and connecting with each other. We are exchanging feelings, energy, wisdom, and love. I mean, think about it, nature has been around since the beginning, right? Her wisdom is so much deeper than mine. Her experiences are much more vast than mine. So, this isn’t a stare down. This is a profound, soothing, and loving embrace that sustains me every day and every minute.
(Advertisement for Nature. As I am writing this and describing the communication and partnership that develops with nature when I am still and quiet in her presence, a fox has just appeared in the yard. She is laying there, only a few feet from me, basking in the sun as I am doing. A fox totem suggests blending in with our surroundings, and that is exactly what she and I are doing right now. I am astounded that she remains with me for as long as she has. She and I are connecting in our respective sacred stillness.)
So, if I sit here quietly, all day, do I make a difference? I would like to think I do. Here’s why.
One) In my quiet stillness, I focus on sending positive energy and prayers to those I love. I pray for their wellness, safety, and journey. During these times, I seek guidance from within and from nature as to how I can best be a Dad, husband, teacher, writer, and inspiring person to anyone I meet. I seek this guidance in an effort to overcome my human fears and doubts about my own gifts. It’s taken years of quiet stillness in nature to finally tap into and trust my intuition and higher self instead of my ego.
Two) While I am quiet and still in nature, our connection leads to more healing for me, and I believe for her. My calmness re-energizes and soothes my sensitive nervous and physical system. I gain clarity in how I can best serve nature when I am ready take the next action step in my service, with this action typically one that will help someone else heal, thereby helping nature heal, or healing nature directly.
Three) Where there is physical destruction of nature by humankind, there is a disconnect between our species and the earth’s plants and animals, and the spirit of Pachamama. My quiet communication with nature deepens our connection and helps to counteract the negative relationships between humans and nature. I know my effort seems minuscule at the moment when compared to the deep disrespect we have shown Mother Nature, but it is a positive exchange of hope and love with her that I believe helps. Not to oversimplify things, but if each of us took time to be quiet and still in nature on a daily basis, I believe the healing across our earth and all cultures would be profound.
Back to the tree that falls in the forest and the proverbial question on whether or not she makes any noise. What I can say for certain is that tree has stood quiet and still in nature for many years, and during those years, she has protected animals, fed animals, birthed other trees, helped form a community (the forest), cleaned the air, provided shade, and been a safe refuge and home to animals and plants. Her stillness allowed her roots to go deep for stability, and her branches to grow tall to absorb more light. I am sure this tree gives a lot more in her quiet stillness that I am describing here. For what it’s worth, yes, I believe the tree makes a noise when she falls but no one is nearby to hear the noise. After she falls to the ground, back into a state of quietness and stillness, she is still making a difference. She becomes food for the forest floor, home for the animals and plants that live near the ground, and she creates space for a younger tree to grow.
What is your belief? If we sit in complete stillness, solitude, and quiet for one minute, then an hour, then a full day, and then an entire week, will we make a difference?
If you don’t already have some quiet, stillness, and solitude in your daily life, I encourage you try such a practice, if even for 5 minutes a day, and then see if you feel differently after a month of this daily practice. Let your connection with and stillness in nature guide you in how you make a difference, because you are a difference maker. We all are.
See you out in nature, and thanks for sharing your trail with me.
Peace and blessings, Paul
Thank you to Anne Knoll for providing all images for this article. Her amazing photography can be viewed at www.jakariousphotography.com.
Follow Up. My wife is reading Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention. Here’s a related and timely nugget of wisdom from this book (page 244):
Many people who have suffered with long term illnesses have been able to return to their Source through the channel of nature and contemplative silence. Spend time in quiet meditation visualizing yourself coupled with the perfectly healthy field of intention. Commune with this Source of all that is good, all that is well, and practice accessing this high spiritual energy, bathing your entire being in this light.