My friend Adam McHugh’s next book likely won’t hit the shelves until 2015, but I got to read chapter 5 last week. (You may know Adam from his first book Introverts in the Church, and if you haven’t already read it, you should find yourself a copy of it right now.)
The book is about the listening life, which Adam wryly says isn’t glamorous or sexy, and will never be the Next Big Thing. It’s a quiet discipline, and one we desperately need–as individuals and as a culture–even if it’s the talkers who seem to get all the glory.
I’m excited to read it.
In chapter 5, Listening to Creation, Adam proposes “the spiritual discipline of the long walk.” Adam writes:
It is long because the monologue racing through our heads takes a while to talk itself out, and it is a walk because moving any faster would make the world blurry, and this is a practice which requires attention.
I love this idea, especially because the frigid cold and icy sidewalks of late have prevented my customary daily rambles. I started taking several short walks everyday when I started tallying steps, but quickly found I loved being out on the pavement (not in the woods, sadly) by myself to breathe the fresh air and clear my head. My walks often involve voicemail and voxer and design podcasts. I don’t think the multitasking long walk is what Adam had in mind.
I avoid checking my email or talking on the phone when I’m walking someplace, or traveling by bus, taxi, or subway. I used to feel guilty for not using that time efficiently, but then I realized that many of my most important ideas have come to me during those periods.
And so I’m changing my habits (which is developing into a theme for the year). Even though–or perhaps because–life lately has felt frantically busy, and my inbox is exploding, I’m carving out quiet spaces, even when I’m doing something simple like (solitary) driving, or heading out for a quick ten minutes to pick up steps.
Adam says that on this bullet train of modern life, “some of us have decided we need to slow down or get off the train so we don’t miss what is right in front of us.”
I don’t want to miss what is right in front of me.
And as soon as the temperature climbs above freezing, I’m heading out for a long walk.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on checking email, finding quiet, and the spiritual discipline of the long walk.
***** ***** *****
Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture is an excellent read for introverts and extroverts alike. Adam also appears in Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, when he and Susan go on a field trip together.