JournalismPakistan.com September 1, 2014
Oops, I have just had a thought.
Not one of those cosmic, celestially illuminating, lightning strikes the empire thoughts but one of those ‘what do you know’ variety where something vaguely hits you and it has been there for years tucked away in the recesses of the mind except you hadn’t seen it.
Like this thought. That mankind (me, you and the neighbors) is running scared, it hasn’t got the gumption to be alone with itself.
Look at us. We are constantly trying to escape ourselves in case we get found out.
Get in car, immediately make mobile phone call, perish the option of spending 20 minutes enjoying our own company. If not that, hit the FM button, need the alien presence.
Reach home, promptly reach for remote control and put on TV, drowning out any chance of sharing our thoughts with the mindless wash from the box.
Get onto a plane, several hours of delightful repose stretch ahead of us, and what do we yearn for… earphones!!!! Like security blankets and pacifiers for babies we need our noise quotient and our synthetic company.
Go it alone, are you crazy?
Technology has made sure it has invaded our privacy and established a beachhead. Simple message: if you are alone with yourself, you might discover you have nothing to say.
So cram every waking second with decibel drumming.
The more I think about it the more I fear my theory, half-baked though it might be, has merit.
We don’t want to be with ourselves, having completely lost that wonderful dimension that Plato called mental leisure. Where man’s greatest thinking was done as he lay back undisturbed and let the links of his ideas evolve into grand designs. If Rodin had been constantly watching the telly fat lot of good it would have done his thinking to create that statue.
These were once words for wisdom: leisure, repose, calm, tranquility, peace of mind, recreation, solitude. The right to be truly alone.
So, hell-o, what happened. We are all so assembly lined, made of ticky tacky and we think just the same. That little dusty heap you see in the corner is Original Thought, dead from disuse.
Bacon it was who said, My mind is my paradise and no one can turn me out of it.
Yeah, sure. Full of weeds and choked with undergrowth, this paradise, underused and even when it is called upon to kick start an act it has to be a duet at the least. We can’t hack it alone, we don't want to do any gardening there.
Quick, silence descends, we might be alone for all of six minutes, panic, let’s do something. Call someone, make contact, put on the Ipad, fiddle with the Iphone, go onto Facebook, maybe even drive past the third rock from the sun.
You think I am pushing it, come on, I hear you, things are not that bad, people need company, what’s wrong with that, this is a dramatic indictment.
Okay, sorry, I withdraw, you are right, we love ourselves and we luxuriate in our own company. Fine. Now, do yourself a little test. How many times were you alone today, like truly just you. The world’s gone, for the moment. Unplugged.
Through history songs of praise have been sung to the delightfulness of solitude. For this generation, when history is written, it will say:
Someone else spoke for them. They never spent enough time with themselves.
Never heard the sounds of silence.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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