There are many quotes and comments that have stuck in my brain throughout the years. They are the guideposts I look to when I’m not sure of the right action to take. These are slightly different from my values. In my values I see the ideals, in the quotes I see context to better help me understand. The majority of the quotes have a story or memory tied to them that help to embed them deeply into my brain. I wish they only came to the top of mind when I called for them, however they often do so exactly when I’d prefer they’d stay hidden in the shadows.
Over the past weeks I’ve been focused on many deep thoughts. Between the anniversary of Dad’s stroke and death, reading a few well timed books, some great thoughts from friends, to getting back into writing, and a few other situations my brain has almost been on overdrive trying to process some seriously intense concepts. What’s interesting is that there are definite connections from one large concept to another. As I think on them I start to see them weave into a larger and interconnected whole. Gratitude tied to presence tied to growth mindset tied to stoicism tied to living while alive tied to purpose tied right back to gratitude. Throw in a little essentialism for good measure and there’s a lot going on in my brain.
So where am I going with all of this? Normally I’d ask this cute little line to help people see the link between what I was just saying and where I am going. Tonight? Yeah, that question was definitely for my thought process. I’m still working this blog out while I type. I’m one part giddy and one part nervous right now. I’m totally opening up my thought process and might end up with a piece fo garbage that I delete (that’s my nervousness). I’m also excited as the blogs written in this fashion in the past have led to some enlightening thought processes (giddy).
So where am I going with all of this? There’s a quote from Blaise Pascal which has been repeating in my brain throughout much of the past week (and it’s in the voice of Father Mark Pierce – that really makes my heart smile!).
“Sometimes when I set to thinking about the various activities of men, the dangers and troubles which they face at court, or in war, giving rise to so many quarrels and passions… I have often said that the sole cause of our unhappiness is that we do not know how to stay quietly in our room.”Blaise Pascal, Pensée 136
When Father Mark introduced this quote I immediately became best friends and archenemies with the concept. I loved the simplicity of its meaning and I could 100% agree with the statement. I also couldn’t help but continue to squirm more and more in my seat as I felt the crushing weight of what it meant upon my chest. Even after seven years this quote is bound to make me take stock in the gap between who I am and who I am called to be.
Here’s why I am most thankful for this quote / concept. It makes me intensely uncomfortable. The dissonance it causes in my soul is palpable.
I am naturally a person of action. My brain is full of fantastic ideas in a crazily complex imagination. Keeping my mind quiet and focused on thought in of itself without distraction is difficult for me.
All that said, I know this comment is correct. The reason I feel such discomfort is that I know that I haven’t followed it and my life would be better for me if I did. The discomfort this quote causes me also helps push me to action.
Over these past couple of weeks I can sense my thoughts and mindset are reaching a wonderful tipping point. So many thought streams are diverging into one river. I need to help continue to push them in the right direction in order to fully connect. Sending time in thought on them is exactly what I need to do in order to make this happen. Time spend on wasted activity does no good in this endeavor. Quite to the contrary, it sets me back and may cause the ideas to never quite coalesce.
Several times over the past few days I’ve heard this saying (read in the voice of Father Mark) repeat in my head. It’s often when I’m doing something that wastes time and is of no true significance. Maybe I’m playing a game alone. Maybe I’m listening to music to clear my brain instead of thinking. Maybe I’m just wasting time on non-essential tasks when I should really be sitting still with my eyes closed and focused on my thoughts.
Thanks to hearing this quote from Pascal play in my head I’ve spend time on different actions. Even tonight, I was going to just sit, write a short and most likely somewhat insignificant blog and do some Sudoku to quiet my mind. Instead this quote prompted movement. I spent time in thought. I decided to blog as a form of meditation to get my thoughts out. As I do I can feel myself making progress to where I should be going, towards my purpose. What an awesome feeling that is!
Blaise, you mathematical and philosophical genius, thank you for taking time to write your thoughts on paper to share with countless numbers of generations. You were 100% correct and your thoughts have helped me take action tonight. I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me before I would say that I am good at living it, but I’m sure I’m at least on the right path. As soon as I start to stray I know I’ll hear your voice in my head calling me back.