How to Save the World
Janet Fitch, the author of the novel White Oleander, writes in this month’s Vogue magazine (not available online) about her ten days of self-initiated silence, and the astonishing effect it had on her. She’d been thinking about a meditation retreat, but when her family wanted to go on a ski trip she wasn’t keen on, she decided this was her chance to try a week of simple silence without the chants and poses.
She began by setting her phone to take messages instead of ringing, and telling callers she would not return calls until the end of the ten days. Then she began going for walks and just waving, instead of talking with, people she encountered who she knew. So far so good.
But she discovered that she was filling the conversational space with reading. So she stopped reading. Writing, offline, was OK, as was listening to instrumental music, but no reading at all: no books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, movies. That’s when things really started to change. She found she was taking the time to pay attention, to restart things she had dropped, to discover new interests and talents, to cook well instead of indifferently.