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One Square Inch of Silence (book 11 of 26)

One Square Inch of Silence (book 11 of 26)

June 3, 2018
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One Square InchWhat a profound read! I am oh-so-affected by what I’ve just read.
Deeply impacted.

Am in a state of high-alert with regards to auditory observation ever since picking up One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet by Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann.

“We’ve reached a time in human history when our global environmental crisis requires that we make permanent life-style changes. More than ever before, we need to fall back in love with the land. Silence is our meeting place.”

Last night I made a bed for myself out in the garden, and slept there, with my never-sleeping ears (there are no ear lids. Ever considered that before? Vision is something we can turn off, hearing is not.) curiously on the prowl for traffic noise, insects buzzing, birds chirping, leaves rustling, my own breath from my steadfast inhalations and exhalations.

“If asked to choose my favorite sound in the world, I doubt that I could do that easily. If forced, I might say it’s the dawn chorus of songbirds, the sound of the rising sun as it circles the globe. But that would disregard the murmur of winged insects as heard over many square miles in the Kalahari Desert, and if that were my favorite sound, that would ignore the hoot of an owl and the way it bounces off the cypress trees in Louisiana, and also ignore the clang of a church bell after it has echoed down the narrow stone streets of an Austrian village. If I had to supply a single answer to that question, my favorite sound in the world would be the sound of anticipation: the silence of a sound about to be heard, the space between the notes.”

I even downloaded a sound meter (actually – two, giving completely different results!) on my IPhone, having finally started to understand decibels and auditory measurements. Thanks to this book, I’ve got something to calibrate sound levels against as Gordon in a pedagogical manner jots in current decibel measurements for whatever it is he’s experiencing, giving me something of a map to help me navigate. Also I’ve gotten an understanding of the profound difference in restricting noise versus preserving quiet. Two completely different perspectives, that I’ve never given any thought to before. But now I do.

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.”

And as I read, I remembered my recent weekend visit at Mundekulla. Walking down the narrow graveled road from the building where we had the course I was taking, to the dining hall where my room was also situated, I noticed the silence. Profound. Peaceful. Powerful!

“Silence seems to make music from everything, simply by isolating individual sounds, allowing the sounds time to form temporal relationships. Music is made out of rests and notes. Quiet times and exciting times, silence and sound. We need them both. More than any other sense, hearing unites everything.”

Now, after completing my read of One Square Inch of Silence, I more fully understand why the experience of quiet (which, in Gordon’s definition, means the absence of man-made noise, rather than no sound at all, an important distinction) holds such power over me (us!).

“Our public gathering places, for sports, literature, learning, and music, are intentional spaces, highly structured, and thus result in somewhat contrived experiences. Whenever I visit them I’m reminded of the vital importance of preserving places outside of human intention, unspoiled wilderness areas, places where we might regain sensory balance and learn from the unscripted, unedited, unenhanced, raw opportunity of nature.”

This concludes my third encounter with Gordon. You see, I first stumbled upon him while listening to On Being some years ago, an episode I highly recommend. My second run in with him was when we took a family vacation to Seattle and Vancouver in 2016 – with me being adamant to cross the sound to visit The Olympic Peninsula, which I would not have necessarily insisted upon, had I not listened to that podcast. While we were there, we took a day-trip to the western shores. En-route back, we stopped at Fairholme General Store along Lake Crescent, where they had a few copies of One Square Inch of Silence at the counter. So besides buying ice cream and two T-shirts, we also left the store with this book, a spur-of-the-moment piece of shopping of which I am truly grateful.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Our past is a story we tell

April 28, 2018
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I think that something that was a real turning point for me was the realization that we have a choice how we view our past. I could have come out of dad’s incarceration, that time of separation, this kind of wild years, when I was a teenager and really hurting a great deal and seen it as a tragedy that this had happened to us, and told the story, that our dad abandoned us you know, and he made this choice to be a drug trafficker when he had young children, and can you believe that?

Our-past-is-a-story-we-tellI could have decided to tell the story that way, and then I would be a different person, and a less happy person. But I chose to tell it differently, and I chose to see it differently, and I believe in my version of events very truly but it is a choice that we make. Our past is a story we tell, and how we tell that story is a choice we make about who we are, and how we want to be perceived, and who we want to be, and I think being aware of that certainly empowers you to rethink in some ways. 

These are the words of Tyler Wetherall, a woman who grew up with a dad on the run, at the end of her long conversation with Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project podcast. She touches a topic very dear to me, something which I certainly have given a lot of thought to these past years.

The realization that it is I who give value to my experiences, I color them, I make them significant or insignificant, meaningful or meaningless. With each layer I wrap around my experiences I have a choice. Each layer presents itself as an opportunity for me. I get to choose victimhood or ownership. Love or hate. Making myself large, or small. Helpless or in charge. At the mercy of someone else’s choices, or at the helm of my own life.

Does this mean I always make “the right” choice? No. Of course not.
But the more I practice (with ample help in my most valued question How does this serve me?) the easier it is to make decisions in the moment that do me good rather than the opposite. We get better at that which we focus on, at that which we practice – so I’ve made a choice to focus on being gentle towards myself, and being aware of the choices I have, is one way of honoring myself.

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The Great Migration

March 5, 2018
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A while back I listened to Isabel Wilkerson on On Being, talking about the Great Migration, which is – and I quote – “the diaspora of six million African Americans to the north of the U.S. in the 20th century“. I listened, and cringed, as I could not ignore my ignorance. I simply did not know, have never thought about, and despite considering myself fairly well-educated, I cannot hide behind the fact that “Western history” to such a large extent is actually “White Western history” at best. That might be an explanation, but it sure isn’t a valid excuse.

So a while back, as me and Jesseca were taking the bus home from a Gifted Book Club-evening, we got to talking and I mentioned Isabel and my urge to read her book, The Warmth of Other Suns. Jesseca immediately jumped on the suggestion, and made that “her book choice” for the book club. We haven’t read the book yet (we’ve yet to discuss Foe by J. M. Coetzee), but I was reminded of this magnificent episode of On Being, and wanted to re-listen to it.

I have recently discovered the series Underground, and it is… horrific. Horrible. Horrendous. Yet, there’s so much hope, heroism and heart as well! I absolutely love the fact that there are such strong female main characters in this show, which in and of itself made me reflect upon my surprise at this – I interpret it as being so unusual on screen, that is the reason why I take such strong notice of it! Anyway, the things we humans do to and with each others can be so disturbing at times, and yet, somehow I want to believe that things are getting better. And they are, to a large extent, but at the same time, they aren’t, for everyone, as these “striking, terrible statistic” that Isabel Wilkerson has noted: […] there was a lynching every four days in the early decades of the 20th century, and it’s been estimated that an African American is now killed by police every two to three days.

Sit with that for a moment or two. It’s more dangerous being black in the US today, than it was a hundred years ago. How??? How is this possible? I just do not (want to) believe it. But those are the facts, however much I would like it to be otherwise.

probably-no-migration-is-about-migration-It-s-aboBeing legal guardian to unaccompanied minors, as well as involved in a project on migration, I am getting a lot of new perspectives on this on a personal level, interviewing people who have migrated to Sweden (or from their home countries, ending up in Sweden more on chance than by design), for one reason or another, be it war, persecution, famine, love or work. Listening to Isabel, she gives me a point of view that opens the very concept of migration up to me anew: I often say that the book is viewed as being a book about the Great Migration, and over time, as I’ve talked about it over these years, I’ve come to realize that it’s not about migration. The Great Migration is not about migration, and really, probably no migration is about migration. It’s about freedom and how far people are willing to go to achieve it. This is the means that they feel they must take in order to find freedom wherever they can find it.

 

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The world needs more of it!

February 5, 2018
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Generosity-Curiosity-Warmth-and-laughter-opennessGenerosity. Curiosity. Warmth and laughter, openness. Depth and honesty, respect, sincerity and a willingness to stay put, to not shy away from the tough and hard questions. People with enormous integrity, making me want to find out more, to listen more, to read more, about them, but more than that, I want to listen and read more by them.

Who?

An imam and a rabbi, in conversation with Krista Tippett in On Being. I start to listen to the edited version, and immediately thereafter I press Play on the unedited version. Which I then proceed to listen to yet once again. And I don’t feel satisfied yet, I’ll be relistening more, mark my words.

Krista starts the conversation thus:
It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and in truth, there’s a lot of laughter in what comes next: an imam and a rabbi walk into a conference of reform Jews. But amidst reports of rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, there are also friendships — and conversations like this — taking place.

Imam Abdullah Antepli and Rabbi Sarah Bassin – I listen to them, and fill up with hope. The way these two people work, and the impact they are having, one heart at a time, is just amazing. There is humility here, loads of it, these are humble people, in my view, and yet, at the same time, they are so strong, flexible and far from easy push-overs. Far from it, by the sound of it!

At one time, Imam Antepli touches on something that is well tuned to my intention for the year:

Imam Antepli: That’s really beautiful. And my biggest holy envy of Judaism is, absolutely, Shabbat. This is something — the world needs more of it. Imagine — when the world’s largest, most effective and influential religion, capitalism, is telling you, “Work more, harder. Buy more. Study harder,” there’s one voice from Sinai for 5,000 years, saying, “Once a week, don’t do that.” 

Wise words, those. The entire show is inspirational, truly. And since I started writing this post a day has passed, and I’ve listened to the show no less than five times. This is a record! And I’m not done. I’ll press Play at least once more. At least.

This – people in true conversation – is what the world needs more of. And one of the ways I use to get more of it – besides engaging in conversations myself – is to listen to On Being, still going strong as my favorite podcast!

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How are you?

December 10, 2017
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Guess what? I have a new podcast for you this week. At long last, you might think, perhaps getting fed up with On Being, Good Life Project and One You Feed, with a few others sprinkled on top these past 42 weeks. If that is so, today is your lucky day!

I stumbled upon ProBlogger a month or two ago, and have listened to a handful of episodes. If you are into blogging and want to expand your blogging skills, I would definitely recommend that you check out the entire podcast series from ProBlogger. But this episode holds value to each and every one of us, regardless if we blog or not.

Darren Rowse goes personal, and invite his listeners to do the same, truly asking ourselves the question: How Are You?

HowAreYouIt’s a question that invites an honest look at a lot of areas of life, perhaps all. If you’re up for it. Otherwise, pick one, and go deep.

Health? Diet? Exercise?
Love? Relationships? Friends? Family?
Parenting? Hobbies? Work?

As I ask myself How are you, in general I’ve never been so well, as I am today. As far as I know, I have my health, I eat better than ever, move about daily, even though, if I’m honest – there’s a nagging sense of wanting to be stronger and have more stamina. So there’s something to look into some more. Or. Perhaps I should just get on it, instead of looking into it… I mean. I know what it takes. Knowing myself, the best way to go about it, is to make a plan. Once I commit to a plan, it seems I don’t have a hard time sticking to it. So a plan it will be.

I listened to this podcast two times, back to back, so there is something about How are you that beckons me. It’s very easy to just breeze over a question like this one, especially since in many English-speaking countries it’s a greeting phrase, and not really meant to be answered honestly. Or? I wonder if I am?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. It seems fitting, as we are nearing the end of the year, to go deep into the question posed by Darren Rowse. 

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Do you know who Glenn Beck is?

November 12, 2017
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I can honestly say, I had no clue who Glenn Beck is when I pressed PLAY on Podcaster. And honestly, I still don’t, really, as the only point of contact I’ve had with him is that On Being episode with him in conversation with Krista Tippett that I first listened to in May of 2017. On the other hand, it’s an episode I think I’ve listened to at least five times, possibly more, so the Glenn Beck he presents as there, is someone I’ve gotten to know quite a bit.

Under what rock have you been hiding?, you might be asking right now.
But as a Swede, living in Sweden, for me Glenn Beck is not a household name. So I figure I’m in pretty good company, in not knowing who this man is.

OppositesHowever. It is a truly remarkable podcast, this one. (And please, when you listen to it, choose the unedited version!) There’s a rapport between them that I really like, but more than that, I think it’s the fact that Krista and Glenn seem to “come from opposite points of view” in many ways, and yet, there’s respect, there’s humor and laughter, there’s agreements as well as points of disagreement, but in the most interesting way. Not at all confrontational (which I gather is something this man has been throughout much of his career), but rather, investigative with lots of curiosity and open-mindedness.

Krista starts the show by stating:
Glenn Beck is a complicated person. So, after all, are we all. Speaking with him brings home the reality that if we’re going to create the world we want our children to inhabit, we’re going to have to find ways to hold more complexity peaceably, and probably uncomfortably, just to soften what is possible between us. We need to be ready to let others surprise us, let them repent, offer forgiveness, and ask hard questions of our own place in this moment. This doesn’t happen often in politics, but it is essential in life and must be part of common life too. As part of our ongoing Civil Conversations Project, I draw out Glenn Beck in this generosity of spirit.

And that’s truly what this podcast exudes, a generosity of spirit; to such an extent that I’ve listened, and re-listened immediately thereafter, more than one time around. That’s high praise coming from such a podcast-buff as I!

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts, mixing them up with new podcast recommendations, such as this one. 

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Poetic tools

October 22, 2017
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I listened to an On Being episode with composer Mohammed Fairouz, and immediately after listening to the edited version I listened to the unedited version, which was even better. Mohammed Fairouz is not a man I’d never heard of before, and I am glad that has been rectified.

He has a lovely positive outlook on the future, stating in no uncertain terms that he thinks the world will soon become a better place. Since I also hold that view, hard as it may be to stick to sometimes, given the barrage of negative news flowing all around, I exhale, and feel my body go a bit soft, relaxed, knowing there are many more people devoted to the same aspiration.

I’m going to say something that you may think me crazy to say. But I believe that the future is extremely bright. I believe that the future is hopeful. And I think that this generation is absolutely committed to making the world a better place. And I think they have the means to do it. And I think that if the world does not become a better place by the time that I’m 50 or 60, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have the will. We have the drive.
– Mohammed Fairouz

It’s an episode that span large and far, in time, in space. Mohammed has a beautiful language, and I love the flow of the conversation. Mohammed says something which I’ve never heard and honestly never thought about. But it hit home somehow, and I’ve reflected upon it since I heard it. I believe there’s something there.

“Where”, you ask?
I reply “Here”, and give you this:

BoldomaticPost_I-think-memorizing-poetry-is

Poetic tools. Isn’t that just a wonderful way to look at it? Poetic tools, do I even have any? I’m not sure I do. When spoken about this way, I sure get an urge to get myself some, don’t you?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts, or posts with other podcast recommendations – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. 

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Bearing witness

October 15, 2017
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Here’s a new recommendation for you, at long last! I have tons of episodes from On Being, Good Life Project and One You Feed that I’d love to recommend for you, but I also want to give you a taste of something new. So here’s Rich Roll in conversation with Andy Puddicombe, the voice and co-founder of Headspace, the meditation app that I’ve been using for almost a year now.

I’ve just listened to a few episodes of the Rich Roll Podcast, and I will be recommending some more as time goes, but the episode with Andy was really interesting, in part because I honestly had no clue to Andy’s extremely unusual background! I might be the only one in the Western world who’s missed out on that story, but… go figure. There I was, anyway. Rich and Andy cleared that up for me though, which I am happy about. Because Andy has lived a life with a story worth telling, that’s for sure.

BoldomaticPost_Most-people-assume-that-meditI’ve never taken to meditation before. Haven’t really tried, properly, and never got interested enough to actually give it a go. And I’m quite happy about that actually, because I sure had it wrong.

Andy got it right, in this quote. That’s the mis-conception that I had. That meditation was a way to stop the inner chatter, the endless jabber, that’s accompanied me all my life.

Perhaps lucky for me, I’d already gotten an understanding of how thoughts work, how they shape the world as I experience it, and what with daily blogging (being a form of self-coaching for me) for a couple of years, I’d gotten pretty ok at stepping back from myself, bearing witness.

So when I started on the Headspace-journey, I had absolutely no wish, desire or ambition for it to help me “stop my thoughts”. Not at all. I just really enjoyed giving myself 10-15-20 minutes a day devoted to stepping back and bearing witness, just being with myself. Sometimes in absolute calm. Sometimes agitated as hell. And not getting caught up in either of those states, but rather just seeing it, seeing me, in the moment.

Anyway. Whether or not you meditate or if you really loath meditation and such mumbo-jumbo, this interview is worth listening to, in my view. And if, by chance, you get interested in the Headspace app and want to give it a go, start with the free 10-day routine, and then let me know if you want to try more. Because I have a 30-day voucher to give away to someone who want’s it! Might it be you?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. 

 

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Everybody-friendly, artist-driven, God-optional, all ages

September 10, 2017
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“Everybody-friendly, artist-driven, God-optional, all ages” – what do you imagine this is the tagline for? If you are anything like me, you would not in a million years believe it is the tagline of a pop-up synagogue, would you? And yet, that is precicely what it is.

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie in conversation with Krista Tippett on On Being is a hoot of a show under the title “First-aid for spiritual seekers”. I laugh, and I cry, and I feel such gratitute to people who don’t “take things for granted because it’s how it’s been done forever and ever” but rather dare ask Why? And Amichai most certainly is one who dares.

I mean, read this transcript from the conversation:

worthy of being passed down“… I think the words are the black box that contains so many of the ancestral aspirations and truths — and also baggage that needs to be checked. There is an evolution. Not everything that we’ve inherited is worthy of being passed on, like trauma and like memories and like values that have evolved. Part of the reason why I’m not an Orthodox Jew but a flexidox or polydox and otherwise-Jew, and not just “Jew,” is that I do believe in evolution, not just of our species and the world, but of concepts. And if the Bible and the Jewish values that have sustained my people for thousands of years believe that women were subservient and that sexuality was of a specific type and that types of worship included slaughtering animals, we’ve evolved. That’s not where we are. So we need to read some of those sacred words as metaphor, as bygone models, as invitations for creativity, and for sort of the second meaning and the second naïveté here that still retrieves this text as useful and these narratives as holy, not as literal.

I think that is, of course, the conversation between so many of us of different religions who are struggling with our brothers and sisters who choose to read things literally and speak for a Biblical truth that is unalterable, where we — some of us think that there is room here for creativity, for sacred metaphor and change. And we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet for those days of dignity and equality and radical justice that Heschel and Dr. King and so many of our leaders, then and now, are hoping for. And here we are — oh, my God — again?”

I hear Amichai speak this into the world, and I rejoice. I remember listening to this podcast once this summer (because yes, this is another one of those podcasts that I simply cannot get enough of, I listen, and re-listen, over and over again, and each time (!) I get something new from it) while picking raspberries in the garden, filled with gratitude and amazement that there are people who dare to question their tradition – regardless if it’s religious or simply habitual – in a way that is not condemning, but rather ripe with opportunity.

There’s possibility in it the questioning, I perceive doors opening, rather than shutting. There’s a strong sense of exploration, and I love the expansion possible in that endeavor.

I also experience gratitude for Krista Tippett and On Being, discovering and sharing the wisdom of interesting people, whom I would not in a million years ever stumble upon otherwise. So I dare you – if you’ve yet to listen to an On Being-episode, this is a great one to start with! The edited show is great, but the unedited one is even better; rich, filled with humor and wisdom.

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Expanding worlds

September 3, 2017
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PrideI’m one rung down on the ladder of being most-priviledged-in-the-world being female instead of male, but besides that fact, I am priviledged. No doubt about it. And I am what I am – the color of my skin, the citizenship I’m born into, being a normative heterosexual – all of those things just are. I cannot undo then. But what I can do is try to widen my own perspective. I can get to know people who come from different backgrounds, who have different experiences of the world – good as well as bad – and most importantly, people who look at the world differently than I do. And I promise you, I can find totally different worldviews also in white, Swedish, normative heterosexual women, who on the surface are similar to me. But there’s so much more to what shapes us, than the surface of things. And both matter – both that which is apparent to the eye, and that which resided within our souls. Both help shape our individual realities.

On Being have a lot of podcast episodes that help me gain these different perspectives. That’s one of the main reasons why I love this show above all the other equally interesting podcasts I follow. But there’s something to On Being that just fits me like hand in glove right now.

And on this topic, giving me other perspectives upon life, the show with Annette Gordon-Reed and Titus Kaphar entitled “Are we actually citizens here?”. I’ve listened to the episode a few times, both the edited and the unedited version. And each time I listen to it, I gasp at some of the experiences that Annette and Titus share with me, and while it’s easy to feel like a total dimwhit for “just not knowing”, I try to keep my focus on what I learn; that which widens my world, and grants me a fuller picture of what it means to be human in this world.

On the same note, I’d like to ask you to read this blog post shared by a friend of mine after the Charlottesville-attack. In a similar way of listening to Annette and Titus, reading this trying to put myself in these situations, my world expands. And I wonder, if that is not one of the highest ideals I have for myself, and for my fellow humans – to grant ourselves the gift of expanding worlds.

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