Silence & Understanding

‘There was silence for a moment – not the absence of words but the presence of understanding.’ Presence, p78

It often happens when we are conversing with someone that when we stop speaking we find the silence uncomfortable. I have been reading a great book called Presence, Exploring profound change in people, organizations and society by Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers. The quote above captured my attention during a flight to Sydney for an Australia Rowing Team gathering.

We are being called back to Penrith to get the whole team together before preparations begin for the international season. So this morning at 5am when I was getting ready to leave home I grabbed the book. I guess what I like to do is read a book for a while and when something strikes a cord with me I go away and reflect on it. This often means that I leave the particular book for sometime and usually begin reading another one. Currently I have four books on the go, which I love. After placing Presence in my bag the thought popped into my head, ‘wonder what I’ll find when I read it today?’

The quote above resonated with me not long after a began reading and for a moment I sat taking in what I felt it meant.

‘There was silence for a moment.’

Even on the aircraft something in the statement appealed. It made me take a moment to consider the way I can often be. Many thought race around my head and if I am catching up with a friend or colleague and we are having a conversation I am passionate about, I notice that I am like that bull at a gate. Although I have seen some bulls at gate who don’t charge through, I assume the analogue is that once I get started on something the momentum gathers and I drive, charge and force my way through with less elegance and more of a lumbering approach.

‘There was silence for a moment.’

It was staring straight at me, silence. Even in side the aircraft with the engine wining and that unmistakable rushing air sound. As I read the pages my mind would dart back and forth about what it all meant and how it might apply to my life.

Over the last week or so I have had a few comments on the blog about making sure I enjoy the moment. It’s a great point and when I consider the way I have been challenging myself and the way I live what I have done a lot of is push, question and explore the way I think and act. The reason for this is to find ways to improve. In the moment of silence on the plan I sensed why I am driven.

‘There was silence for a moment.’

In a breath, a pause, a moment I caught a glimpse of the origin of my drive and motivation or at least I think it’s a glimpse. I want to make the most of my potential, opportunities and face any fears I have.

So here they are:
-Potential: To live life fully and to help others do the same
-Opportunities: Be the best at something and share the insights I gain
-Fears: Being misunderstood and being bitten by a shark (I have been a surfer since I was 11 years old and every now and then when out in the water the eerie thought of a shark swims into my mind and I can freak myself out a bit)

Again ‘Silence’ is interesting to consider. Allow the space between to thoughts and words to expand is valuable. Resting with what is present in my awareness is essential if I am to understand. Understand what? Understand motivation, drive, and sense of purpose, fear and understand even the meaning of the quote.

What is silence?
Where is silence?

‘There was silence for a moment – not the absence of words but the presence of understanding.’

Read between the lines comes to mind and when I put that back into the context of rowing it is the silence between the strokes. There is a deep sense of satisfaction that comes when the timeless element of the rowing stroke is given space to be heard. What I mean is that within the cycle each stroke has a rise and fall to it. Like our breathing, in and out. There is space between each breath, between each stroke, like the space between each word. What I guess I am saying is that space is silence and it is everywhere, but we are often unaware of its presence and the quality it can bring. It’s a quality so timeless that when discovered creates clarity of understanding of knowing. Now with out getting too mystic what I will add finally is that I have had rowing experiences that provided a glimpse into what I think and feel this quote is saying. When I read it so many things feel into place and a wonderful sense of peace came over me.

The reasons why I blog are varied. I find when I write like this I eventually come to a point where I am clear, still, calm and silent. At times I have raging battles in my mind about the words I should use to express my view. It is like a thrashing sound that rattles in my mind. Challenging myself to articulate the many thoughts and to place them with care into a sentence is soothing. It becomes rhythmical as the cycle of pulsating ideas signal a chain reaction as the images, patterns and threads emerge as words in my mind and some times the thing I love is, I am never quiet sure what I will write next. It is like a rowing race. You can plan and practice and still on the day things can unfold in a most remarkable way. In a way you’re not quiet sure how the performance will come out. The joy of letting go and observing the flow is very cool. The letters, to words, to sentences, to paragraphs is like elements of the rowing stroke, to strokes, to distance, to races, to events. The release is rewarding and then to gain feedback about the value is quiet amazing. For many years I have written and enjoy playing with my writing and so a natural step is to put it out there and share with family, friends and the wider community.

Writing about rowing and the great learning it provides me is rewarding and I am glade others gain something out of it also.

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