Hiding From The Noise

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Painting by Max Beckmann

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.” — David Whyte


“The dark night is more than a learning experience; it’s a profound initiation into a realm that nothing in the culture, so preoccupied with external concerns and material success, prepares you for.”
― Thomas Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul:

I’m a confirmed introvert, an artist. Time alone has always been natural and easy for me. Growing up in an extroverted culture, I developed ways of sidestepping the noise. Big talkers mystify and irritate me. My father was a raving extrovert, which presented a problem when I was young. I kept wondering when he was going to shut up. He never did. Sometimes I thought he talked just so he wouldn’t have to listen to anyone else. It was trying. He wasn’t above repeating himself.

My father was a good man and I admired him. I just had to keep an appropriate distance. My relation with the world follows along a similar track. Living large in the noisy world is not interesting to me. My version of a full life is built on a foundation of solitude and simple pleasures.

Now, in the time of Coronavirus, I don’t suffer from the enforced hiding we must do until the plague either exhausts itself or is eradicated. My vision of a bigger life might have more travel or more visits to restaurants, but no parties or hobnobbing. I prefer to pass unnoticed, even though I am ambitious for my ideas. I don’t paint or write to call attention to myself. I’m just trying to develop understanding and beauty. I personally need that and I think the world could benefit too if I happen to find it.

The mad scramble to impress and survive in a materialistic culture twists us into strange shapes, even us introverts. We grow partly in reaction to what’s around us. We may even try to imitate those extroverts that actually bother us so much when we have to spend up-close and personal time with them. They are admired for their talents in the show-and-tell game, but we can’t change our basic nature if we’re different.

I come out of my shell a bit more while living abroad, I admit, because I like speaking foreign languages and I admire old cultures. I become a little less diffident and taciturn, more myself. That was a surprise the first time it happened.

Success can be defined not on material terms but as being who you were born to be. If your native culture goes against the grain you may be obliged to find a more congenial one, right down to your family, circle of friends and life partner. It took me a long time to get it right.

You may need to construct a family of your own, even a religion of your own, a culture of your own, to live your best life. You can’t just accept what you’re given. Your family and culture of origin may be a doorway into this world but if it outlives its usefulness, you may be called upon to abandon it for something better at some point.

You’re in a “vale of soulmaking,” as Shelly said. That’s where your real mission lies.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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