Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Could we have a moment of silence? Please?

This was originally published in The Indianapolis Star several years ago, but lately I've been thinking again about the noise of our lives....

As soon as I start pumping my gas, it begins. A small television on the side of the pump comes to life, and a tiny talking head announces the latest news. Luckily, there’s a mute button. Unluckily, the mute button silences the little man for only ten seconds.

I never thought of pumping gas as a quiet moment, but now that I can’t escape a news report that I don’t want to hear, I’m suddenly appreciative of my previous gas station experiences. And I wonder: who decided that I couldn’t have that quiet moment?

Probably the same people who set up televisions in waiting rooms. Waiting around for hours was never great fun, but listening to too-loud cartoons hasn’t made things any better! I used to get this waiting-room zen thing going. It was practically meditation. Now I find myself getting more tense and impatient the longer I have to listen to that grating noise. Another quiet time bites the dust!

I can understand how someone might think it a good idea to install televisions wherever quiet raises its noiseless head. After all, many of us dislike silence so much that we listen to music every possible waking moment. Boom boxes, radios, IPOD systems fill the air with musical selections that one person has chosen to share with the rest of the world. The music in restaurants and bars drowns out not only the quiet, but also any chance of conversation. Oases like the gas station must have seemed disturbingly peaceful to whatever good Samaritan thought of using televisions to save us all from the sounds of silence.

Maybe the ever-present noise of televisions in waiting rooms and bars, music in restaurants, radios in passing cars, and cell phones everywhere annoys me because I still have some hearing left! I haven’t deafened myself with years of wearing headphones and listening to music so loud that the people around me can sing along. I don’t have to rattle the windows with my stereo in order to feel that I’m having a good time. And I don’t go to concerts any more, even for the relatively mild-mannered entertainers I like. My last concert required ear plugs just to be bearable!

I can still hear – and I’m tired of listening! Walking through a mall means being bombarded by constantly changing music as I pass different stores. If a ringing cell phone doesn’t interrupt a movie, somebody’s ongoing commentary will. Other people are always choosing the soundtrack for my life!

Does silence scare everybody? Are we afraid that we might be forced to interact with a stranger in a TV-free waiting room? If we’re not instantly available by cell phone, do we cease to exist? Without music pounding at our brains, would we have to THINK? And who knows what we might have to do with our kids if we didn’t have computers and televisions and video games!

I know we don’t have to listen to real birds since we have singing clocks. And we’re really involved with the lives of our television friends and family. And yes, it’s true that music hath charms to soothe every troubling thought out of our heads. But couldn’t we just try a quiet moment now and then?

Couldn’t we turn it all off?

And listen?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

More Writing Wisdom!

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.  Meister Eckhart 

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.  Somerset Maugham

Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. Neil Gaiman

The ear is the only true writer.  Robert Frost

I didn't have time to write you a short letter so I wrote you a long one. Mark Twain

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. Stephen King 

All except the shallowest living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.  Msgr. John Sullivan

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saints Said It!

Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger.

Those words of wisdom come from Saint Basil the Great.  For more inspirational quotes from the saints, check out my Facebook page Saints Said It. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Talking Teens and Their Challenges

     I was recently interviewed on An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media. The wonderful host, Elizabeth Reardon, and I talked about my book Tackling Tough Topics with Faith and Fiction (a faith-based resource for caring adults who want to encourage young teens to live their faith when facing moral challenges) as well as a variety of other subjects! You can listen to the podcast of the interview here. Tune into An Engaging Faith at 4:00 EST weekdays here. And check out the other great programs on Breadbox Media here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Writing Wisdom

More quotes from my collection!

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.  Thomas Mann

The best thing that can happen in life is when you start work at eight o'clock and somebody says it's time for coffee break and you don't want to go.  Stephen King

The writer's magic word is BIC -- butt in chair.  Jane Yolen

A writer's job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories.  John Irving

Learn to love revision.  Wally Lamb

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.  Mark Twain

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
 Muriel Rukeyser