In this short video clip, the remarkable Fred Rogers describes one of the most powerful gifts he was given in his life…
…people “who allowed me to have some silence. I don’t think we give that gift very much anymore. I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…
How do we do that? How do we encourage reflection?”
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He’s got me thinking how we can encourage wonder and reflection, what form that rare gift would take?
Part of the answer lies in Rogers himself, who listened deeply to whomever he was talking with, embracing silences without trying to fill them up with music or chatter, and in that way creating a kind of spaciousness…
Just as this post went out, a friend called to read me “Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda in a lovely perfection of synchronicity.
(If you don’t have the gas to read it, listen to Sylvia Boorstein reading it here.)
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.