Shut up and start listening . . !


IF there was some mechanism that could amplify all cell phone conversations taking place at once, the sound produced would be louder than an earthquake or bomb blast, a rumble worse than a giant drill tearing into a concrete road! Once upon a time we saw people walking around in silence, stopping to wish or converse only when they met someone, but now, chatting doesn’t cease. And with that has gone your quiet time.

There’s the story of a corporate president who, as a young man, learned an important and life-changing lesson. He’d just graduated from college and was called for an interview for a position with a firm in New York City. As the job involved moving his wife and small child from Texas to New York, he wanted to talk the decision over with someone before accepting it, but his father had died and the young man did not have anybody to turn to.

On impulse, he telephoned an old friend of the family; someone his father had suggested he turn to if he ever needed good advice. The friend said he would be happy to give him advice, ‘Go on to New York City and have the interview,’ the older man said. ‘But I want you to go up there in a very special way.

I want you to go on a train and get yourself a private compartment. Don’t take anything to write with, anything to listen to, or anything to read, and don’t talk to anybody except to put in your order for dinner with the porter. When you get to New York call me and I will tell you what to do next.’

The young man followed the advice precisely. The trip took two days. As he had brought along nothing to do and kept entirely to himself, he quickly became bored. It soon dawned on him what was happening. He was being forced into quiet time. He could do nothing but think and meditate.

About three hours outside New York City he broke the rules and asked for pencil and paper. Until the train stopped, he wrote – the culmination of all his meditation. He called the family friend from the train station. ‘I know what you wanted,’ he said. ‘You wanted me to think. And now I know what to do. I don’t need help anymore.’

‘I didn’t think you would,’ came the reply. ‘Good luck.’ Years later, the same young man headed a corporation in California. And he always made it a policy to take a couple of days to be alone. He went where there was no phone, no television, no distractions and no people. He went to be alone, to meditate and to listen.

French writer and Nobel Prize winner André Gide reminds us to ‘be faithful to that which exists within yourself.’ But how can we be faithful when we don’t really know what is inside? The answer is to be quiet. Stop that cell phone habit, still your mind and listen. You’ll soon know what to do…!


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