Brokenhearted Theology, Meaning

Noise as Our Way of Being; Busyness as Our Way of Life


Two interesting things:

First, 85 year ago, John Maynard Keynes predicted that within a century we in the developed world would only need to work 15 hours per week.

Second, I’ve never lived in a world where there wasn’t a Sony Walkman; I’ve always had the technology to overpower the ambient noise of the world with a soundtrack of my choosing.

Kalle Lasn writes that:

from the dull roar of rush-hour traffic to the drone of your fridge and the buzz of your monitor, noise is continuously seeping into our brains. And the volume is constantly being cranked up. Two, perhaps three generations have already become stimulation-addicted. Can’t work without background music. Can’t jog without earphones. Can’t sleep without an iPhone tucked under the pillow. The essence of our postmodern age may be found in this kind of incessant brain buzz. Trying to make sense of the world above the din is like living next to a freeway – you get used to it, but at a severely diminished level of mindfulness and well-being.

Quiet feels foreign now.

Busyness and noise.

I’ve found myself making all kinds of excuses to justify busyness.

It’s just a season.
But this is really important.
I don’t know what else to do.

But I wonder if we’ve actually made busyness something not just to put up with, but something desirable. When we greet someone and they ask us how we’re doing, almost without thinking about it, we respond “oh, you know, I’ve been really busy.”

Because if you are to be important, valuable, intriguing, worthwhile, then you better be busy; your calendar better be full.

But I’m growing less content with this pervasive rhythm of noise and routine of busyness in my own life and as I look out at the surrounding world.

So I’m starting to name these rhythms and routines that bring busyness and noise because, for me, if they’re not named, they’re not noticed:

  • Filling silence with the mostly white noise of podcasts, talk radio, and music.
  • Filling time with mindless and mostly meaningless refreshing of social media.
  • Filling my space with technological distractions. Does my phone always have to be in my pocket? Does it have to be next to me as I sleep?

Instead, I want to chase after rhythms and routines that create space for listening, quietness, solitude, and mindfulness.

  • Going on walks without my phone.
  • Limiting time on social media.
  • Spending more time in life-giving rhythms that I too often “don’t have time for” (including, for me, writing, listening to a whole album with headphones, gardening, good conversations)
  • Saying no or not right now to schedule-overcrowding opportunities (even good opportunities)

So that’s something I’m thinking about.

For those interested, these thoughts are rooted in the current learning journey at Open Door; last week, I taught on the Jesus who Starts with Silence and the audio is available here

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