"Quiet" has become an important word for me, a word that follows me around and guides me. It's part of my quest to listen to myself, to figure out what motivates me and what makes me happy. Quiet sometimes means literal silence (leave the stereo off) and sometimes it means stepping away from the chatter of the computer; sometimes it means skipping the cocktail party, or just not having wine with dinner to keep my thoughts clearer. Not all the time - but we give ourselves so many distractions and once in a while you have to get away from them. As I've thought about it and tried to practice it, I've become convinced that this is why men go fishing, or hunting, or golfing: it's quiet.
Thanks to a recommendation from John Ettorre, (with a great thread of comments) I've been slowly reading "Listening Below the Noise" by Anne D. Leclaire. Savoring it, sort of, rationing it out as I know that if I read too much at a sitting it won't sink in. On at least one stressful occasion, having read it earlier that day gave me the presence of mind to say the right thing and be a better man.
There's a whole set of skills, a mindset or a perspective, that have come into focus for me recently, related to the practice of having a directed life or a directed career. Quiet is one of the skills that contributes to identifying the direction you want to go. Passion--in my boss's words, engagement--is the hallmark of a person who is actually doing what they want to do. People who are passionate about their work go home energized, not exhausted. Networking is a skill for moving your career in that direction. If you know your direction, networking is natural. If you're reacting, instead of acting, it's not.
Noise is anaesthetic. Quiet is necessary for life.