The other day my daughter and I watched an American Girl movie called “Felicity”. It tells the story of a young girl’s life in colonial New England. A time when proper etiquette included a controlled tongue and a well-trained mind. In those days, it was considered an art to ponder one’s opinions and words carefully before speaking. As I watched the story unfold, I realized how far we have come from those proper days.
It this current culture it seems the art of pondering as been lost. Where our ancestors found value in calmly reflecting on events, or coming to decisions slowly, today it seems we are condemned for thinking too much or taking too long to make a decision. Statements like “hold your tongue, consider your words carefully before speaking”, and “sometimes it is better to say nothing” were the norm. Today, I fear they are the exception.
Pondering slows things down and creates a space where we can breathe. In today’s culture, it seems faster is better. While pondering promotes a thoughtful response, the current culture promotes drama and emotional reactions are glamorized. Pondering is like pressing the pause button, it invites an attitude of intentional living where peace and well-being thrive. Unfortunately, we live in a time where it seems the pause button is broken, and the word intentional has taken on a life and economy of its own. The thing with pondering is…. it doesn’t always come naturally. It can be hard.
We live in a world where we’re encouraged to avoid anything that is hard. Pondering is especially hard when being still doesn’t come naturally! That’s me! I am NOT a natural ponderer. I have activator in my list of top five strengths, so my first inclination is not toward the calm or reflective. But rather the quick and active. Add that to the endless list of interruptions that come from my state in life and the distractions of our technology saturated culture, and its no wonder I have such a hard time pondering!
Even though, I understand the value and importance of the art of pondering, it doesn’t make it easier! It still takes a huge amount of effort for me to be still and quiet my mind. But the good news is the more I do it the better I get at it, and the easier it is to do it the next time. Just like any art, the art of pondering takes consistent practice. This can be as simple as setting aside a certain time of day, on a regular basis to practice being still and quieting your mind. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. And the better we get, the more peace and well-being we’ll enjoy.
Although we live in a culture where the pace we keep is definitely faster and the distractions available are far more than our ancestors, the art of pondering is still essential to our peace and well-being. Our ancestors knew that slowing things down and being more deliberate would benefit their society.
How might our society change if we resurrect the lost art of pondering?