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The Art of Manliness -- The Spiritual Disciplines: Solitude and Silence |
'...When writer Patrick Leigh Fermor went to live at a monastery in Europe in order to work on a book, he initially found his adjustment to the new environment difficult and went through a kind of withdrawal period during his first few days there. He felt depressed and oppressed by the quiet and isolation of the abbey, experiencing “a feeling of loneliness and flatness that always accompanies the transition from urban excess to a life of rustic solitude”: “only by living for a while in a monastery can one quite grasp its staggering difference from the ordinary life that we lead. The two ways of life do not share a single attribute; and the thoughts, ambitions, sounds, light, time and mood that surround the inhabitants of a cloister are not only unlike anything to which one is accustomed, but in some curious way, seem its exact reverse. The period during which normal standards recede and the strange new world becomes reality is slow, and, at first, acutely painful.” -- As Fermor acclimated to his silent, solitary surroundings, he discovered he’d been living with a debt of inner exhaustion of which he’d been completely unaware: “I found that my capacity for sleep was becoming more and more remarkable: till the hours I spent in or on my bed vastly outnumbered the hours I spent awake; and my sleep was so profound that I might have been under the influence of some hypnotic drug . . . The explanation is simple enough: the desire for talk, movement and nervous expression that I had transported from Paris found, in this silent place, no response or foil, evoked no single echo; after miserably gesticulating for a while in a vacuum, it languished and finally died for lack of any stimulus or nourishment. Then the tremendous accumulation of tiredness, which must be the common property of all our contemporaries, broke loose and swamped everything. No demands, once I had emerged from that flood of sleep, were made upon my nervous energy: there were no automatic drains, such as conversation at meals, small talk, catching trains, or the hundred anxious trivialities that poison everyday life.” -- After Fermor’s body had become well-rested, and erased the deep-seated fatigue caused by years of dealing with the “anxious trivialities” of everyday life, he found he needed only five hours of sleep a night, and entered a “new dispensation [that] left nineteen hours a day of absolute and god-like freedom.” Fermor delighted in his new routine that consisted of walks in the countryside, reading, and an astonishing level of productivity in his writing. -- Though the transition to silence and solitude when entering the monastery had been hard, Fermor reported that “the unwinding process, after I had left, was ten times worse. The Abbey was at first a graveyard; the outer world seemed afterwards, by contrast, an inferno of noise and vulgarity."'
psychology  solitude  productivity 
17 hours ago by adamcrowe

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