Modern life is exhausting and overwhelming. We are constantly surrounded by external stimuli – busy cities, technology, the internet – all forms of noise that define our belligerent age. We seldom are able to pause, to bask in sweet silence – the pure delight of having nothing to do but be.
On Quiet is a pocket-sized book of wisdom about the importance of stillness and mindfulness in today’s world. Nikki Gemmell knows what it is to be caught up in the noise of everyday life. She recounts times where she has been so overwhelmed by noise – by the incessant ringing of a phone, the urgent cries of a needy toddler, the tinny hum of aeroplanes passing overhead – that she has almost folded a stroller in half with her baby still sleeping inside. It was a harsh realisation for Gemmell that she needed to lose the noise, simplify her life, and soothe the ‘agitation of her soul.’
In On Quiet, Gemmell writes about ‘Quietism’ – a ‘devotional contemplation and abandonment of the will…a calm acceptance of things as they are.’ She argues that we need quiet now more than ever, and she is right. But what does it mean to be quiet? And where can one find silence in a world that is perpetually abuzz?
Gemmel reminds us that there are quiet moments to be had every day, if we allow for them. She suggests cultivating a space for quiet, and also places an emphasis on nature – venturing from the city and back to that which is untouched. Nature is inherently peaceful; most noise is man-made, and in nature we find a stillness and tranquillity that does not exist within the concrete bounds of a city. The book is full of literary and philosophical references and is as thought-provoking as it is emotionally moving. It holds a mirror up to society, and forces the reader to reflect on why we live the way we do, and the consequences of our fractious lifestyles.
The writing in On Quiet demands a stillness in and of itself. Gemmell’s words are poetry – they speak to the deepest part of your psyche, demand confrontation and evoke feeling.
If you are looking for a advice on how to ‘flick an off switch on the great noise of life,’ then we highly recommend you find a nice, silent corner, cosy up with a cuppa, and give On Quiet a read.
About the Author:
Nikki Gemmell has written four novels, Shiver, Cleave, Lovesong, The Bride Stripped Bare and The Book Of Rapture, and one non-fiction book, Pleasure: An Almanac for the Heart. Her work has been internationally critically acclaimed and translated into many languages. In France she’s been described as a female Jack Kerouac, in Australia as one of the most original and engaging authors of her generation and in the US as one of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.