Definitions of the word quiet, according Merriam-Webster dictionary, include:
- the quality or state of being quiet (noun)
- marked by little or no motion or activity (adjective)
- calm, gentle, easygoing (adjective)
- free from noise or uproar (adjective)
- secluded (adjective)
As I thought about the word “quiet”, it reminded me a of a quote that was shared with me years ago. The quote was one by Helen Keller, someone who obviously experienced a lot of “quiet” in her life. She said:
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
What a true and inspiring quote. Helen Keller is one who definitely experienced much trial and suffering in her life and was strengthened, developed ambitious desires, achieved success by learning to overcome the trial and suffrage. To do this, she was not quiet. She worked hard. She put forth the effort to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to communicate with others, to move from place to place, to live the life she was meant to live.
The same goes for all of us. If we truly have the desire, we can overcome our trials and suffering. However, we can do it by sitting quietly. That is, we must put forth the effort. Little to no motion or activity will not help us. We must act, to the best of our abilities, both verbally and physically to fight off the struggles and win the trials.
To do this we must avoid seclusion. Secluding ourselves from others does not help. We must seek the guidance and support of others. We can’t do it alone. Helen Keller and her family knew this and sought the needed help. For nearly fifty years, Anne Sullivan was Helen Keller’s valued teacher, motivator, counselor, and friend. Through Anne’s help, Helen learned to survive and learned that another aspect of not staying quiet is giving back. Once we overcome our trials and struggles we must use the knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well the things we learned in overcoming those trials, to help others. Helen knew this. She used what she had learned in her lifetime to inspire others through her writing, becoming involved in social matters, helping other with disabilities, and co-founding the American Civil Liberties Union.
As you begin the new year, ask yourself what your level of quietness is. Are you too quiet? Another statement that I think we should all consider is a quote by, writer, actor, and filmmaker Mel Brooks. He once said, “If you’re quiet, you’re not living. You’ve got to be noisy and colorful and lively.”