The Significance of a Quiet Space

If you know me, then you are well aware that I am no wallflower. Gregarious and outspoken with a robust laugh, I possess an energetic brain and, as a result, am often contemplating various ideas simultaneously or am engaged in multiple projects at once. My mind propels me to action so frequently that I have even been accused of running marathons up and down the stairs of my home on a daily basis. There are circumstances that arise in one’s life, however, that require that one diverge from the vigorous race, halt the pace and silence the noise. The universe deems it necessary, from time to time, to remind me that I am no exception to that rule.

My friend of 20 years had just undergone brain surgery—a sobering experience to be sure. There is nothing like the threat of injury to a loved one to stop us in our tracks—even expeditious ones such as mine. I journeyed to Seattle to care for him as he recovered. Having undergone such an intense, terrifying medical procedure, it was necessary for my friend to have a peaceful zone for his healing process to be most effective. The care I was providing was mostly to sit by his bedside, ensuring I was available should he needed anything. With sleep as a priority for him, however, it became apparent I would need to curb my typical animated activity and operate in a more subdued manner.

It made sense that I could engage myself in art to occupy my time, but away from my typical environs, I found myself without access to the cache of art supplies I maintain at home in Portland, Oregon. Instead, I picked up a small, cheap notebook with lined paper, and in the silence of my friend’s apartment, occupied myself by doodling in it. Drawing is where my artwork originated. Perhaps it was such an old friend that I didn’t think much of what had resulted from the hours of drawing in that notebook until I reviewed the markings a few days later. At that point, I realized the designs I had created were more significant than I had originally imagined. Excited by the energy of what I felt sparked within me through this process (and in fairness to the work I was creating), I purchased an art book with finer paper and began drawing more and more. What I discovered in the silence and stillness of the space was that my mind began to mirror the calmness of my environment. Instead of analyzing my motions, I was permitting my hand to guide me. Much like automatic writing (which is writing said to arise from a spiritual, subconscious or supernatural source rather than from the writer’s conscious mind), the images seemed to spring forth organically and of their own accord. It became apparent that by finding a space for repose, I was able to tap into an auxiliary part of myself and could access an alternate process by which to create my art.

While I am still apt to run frequent marathons at home and over-engage my brain on a regular basis, I now recognize how necessary it is to remove myself from the sometimes-overwhelming cacophony created by daily living. As a result of the practice that began while caring for my friend, I have discovered the significance of a quiet space, especially when the static and noise in my life is loudest. It is in that time, when I am alone, that I am best able to hear what my intuitive, creative voice is saying and listen to the desires of my heart. Granting myself that room rejuvenates me and regenerates my spirit. It allows me to reflect on choices I have made and conversations I have had. It gives leave to reflect on who I am and how I move in the world. It offers a space for mindful meditation and deep thinking. It gives me permission to simply be and create. I have determined that a quieted mind is not just a something to apportion myself as a treat on special occasions, but something that is necessary to my personal well-being, and what gives birth to the sincerest form of my art.