#SOL17: Talk Less

“Talk less.

Smile more….”

For those of you not as obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton as I’ve been, this is the advice Aaron Burr gives Hamilton early in the play. I’m not giving anything away if I say this advice doesn’t work out so well for Burr in the end. But it is good advice for me, in this hour, on this day.

Silence is a way of coping. Of standing in the middle of a storm and letting the floodwaters rush around you while you breathe in, slowly, deeply, and then exhale.

Moving more slowly is a way to quiet jangling nerves. Talking slower makes the mind slow down.

Try it sometime. It works.

Today I am using all these strategies, plus the ever-useful strategy of compartmentalizing. Here’s how that works:

We put our house on the market five days ago and accepted an offer this morning. The inspection is in four hours, so we will once more ready the house for its most important showing and skedaddle. We can come back before supper, and within a day or so, we should be in contract. We feel very grateful.

The hearing for the Evil Woman nominated to be Secretary of Education is this afternoon. I have called and written; there’s nothing more I can do today.

That Man is being inaugurated Friday.  I have grieved that and moved into action; there is nothing more to be be done on that front today.

The Women’s March on NYC is Saturday and I’m loosely organizing a group for that. I will send out an email reviewing our plans; I look forward to spending time with these wonderful people.

We leave Sunday for Oregon and the inspection on our new house Monday. Plane tickets? Check. Car rental? Check. Flight back to a different city to a conference? Check.

They say major life changes can have major effects on your health. There are even helpful ways you can score your stress levels, with equally helpful predictions about the chance of major illness you and your stress score face. Let’s not talk about mine.

What’s odd is that none of the stress surveys factor in educational, environmental, political circumstances. Are these somehow less personal, less profound, than finishing grad school (hello Dr. LaBonte), buying a house, moving from the place where you’ve lived for 20 years? The large-scale national events have been the grim backdrop to all the life changes around me; I am learning that my citizen-self is as meaningful to me as my private/personal self.

We are traveling to Oregon Sunday instead of Saturday because of the march. My mother wants to know what good it will do, these hundreds of marches happening worldwide, what will they change?

Everything, I tell her. They put the world on notice. They shift something about the ways the winds move. Mostly, I think, they tell us who we are.

In the midst of tumult, it is good that something is certain.

Talk less, Burr said. A deep breath. Slower movement, more deliberate thought. In the midst of the world turned upside down, I am more certain each day of what I believe, of who I am. And I will not be moved.


by David Mark CC0


7 responses to “#SOL17: Talk Less”

  1. Connie Knapp says:

    Lovely reflection. Sometimes I think I march for me so that I remember who I am, what I stand for and what I believe. There’s a wonderful little book by Meg Wheatley, called Perseverance (you can learn more here http://margaretwheatley.com/books-products/books/perseverance/) that is based on a Hopi prophecy. I was lucky enough to be on retreat with her and Pema Chodron a few years ago. You can learn more about that retreat here http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/book-reviews/fully-alive-a-retreat-with-pema-chodron-on-living-beautifully-with-uncertainty-and-change. But the most important part of the retreat was the prophecy, which talks about, well, what’s going on right now, actually.
    Here it is:
    “Here is a river, flowing now very fast.
    It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid;
    willing to cling to the shore.
    They are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
    Know, that the river has its’ destination.’
    The elders say, ‘Let go of the shore.
    Push our way into the middle and keep our heads above water.’
    They also say, ‘See who is there with you and celebrate.
    At this time in history, the time of the lone wolf is over.
    Gather yourselves.
    Banish the word struggle from your vocabulary.
    All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration;
    for we are the ones we have been waiting for.”
    So maybe you can tell your mother that “At this time in history, the time of the lone wolf is over.”

  2. “Talk less, Burr said. A deep breath. Slower movement, more deliberate thought. In the midst of the world turned upside down, I am more certain each day of what I believe, of who I am. And I will not be moved.”

    This last paragraph at the end of your writing gave me goosebumps. As a world, we all need to heed this advice and take a deep breath, be more deliberate, and just not say as much. Today, I really needed this, so I thank you for sharing your slice with us! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for you kind words– and mostly for validating my own feelings these days. This slice was hard to write– it didn’t take shape until those very last lines, and they surprised me. I’m so glad they spoke to you. #StrongerTogether

  3. “What good will it do?”

    Ah…but what good will doing nothing do?

  4. Good luck with the move. Our worlds move in small and larger ways. Sometimes, we control the flow. Sometimes, the flow controls us. Finding balance is important.

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