By Bill Harley
Jean and I attended an event recently where someone at the podium praised their best friend for “never providing a dull moment”. In that moment, I understood what the speaker meant and nodded in agreement. But then, I got to thinking. What is so bad about dull moments?
On the one hand, we live in a culture that teaches us to strive with all our might to avoid dull moments. If we go to a sporting event, we are surrounded and immersed in multi-media, audio-visual stimulation that is unceasing. Restaurants are designed to be noisy so that there will be no awkward moments of silence between two people or a group of people. Our digital devices are so engaging that we no longer watch where we are going or notice who is around us. All of this keeps us at the surface rather than the depths of awareness.
On the other hand, in dull moments we are faced with silence and profound questions that a noisy culture helps us keep submerged. Questions like:
Who am I?
What is the purpose of life?
What’s trying to happen in my life and relationships?
How can I enhance my key relationships?
In what ways do I need to grow?
What is my calling in life?
How can I best serve in the world?
How can I contribute to the advancement of society?
How much taking versus giving am I doing in my life?
What truly makes me happy and fulfilled?
What makes those around me happy and fulfilled; and am I contributing or detracting from that?
What must happen in the rest of my life for it to be a life of few regrets, a life well lived?
Deep questions like these draw forth our True Self, our higher nature; and answers to these types of deep questions not only motivate us to grow by making constructive changes, but contribute to our sense of meaning and fulfillment in life.
But the nature of our culture keeps us preoccupied with shallow questions: Which of the 14 styles do you like? Which of the 8 flavors and 10 toppings do you choose? What level of service do you want—there are 6 to select from? We are so overwhelmed with trivial questions and choices that we have no time for profound ones. We are starving from the absence of dull moments. Meanwhile, the rates of mind altering drug use and suicide climb.
One message found in Scriptures of all the major world religions is that human beings were created to rise above their present-day cultures in order to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. This cannot be done when we are totally immersed in the present culture. The only way to get a foothold for climbing above the present culture is to step willingly into dull moments. We need to embrace the silence, articulate the profound questions, seek the profound answers and then act accordingly.
As an aid to understanding this process, read Jean’s and my first book, Now That I’m Here, What Should I Be Doing?
As an aid to making decisions and solving problems while navigating this process, read our second book, TRANSFORMED: How to Make the Decisions That Change Your Life
Jean and I wish you many dull moments in the year ahead!