Into the Quiet

Quiet spaces. Quiet places. The solitude of the pandemic time made it possible to explore deeply and widely while in Viet Nam for an unexpected waylay that lasted 20 months. That story, I wrote, in Solitude.

Now, with some space from that having been back for a time in Phnom Penh (home away from home), I’ve enjoyed the space from solitude to get back into society again.

To this end, the last four months have been an occasion to get out of my comfort zone again, and, fortunately, to share some observations in a first-person column, which is this book. In addtion, I’ve also added some of my own annotations between them, as a way to give more context to how these pieces flow together and center on the theme of quieting.

Whether it’s tea in the morning or finding my way through the unexpected left turns of a tuk-tuk venture to the outskirts of Phnom Penh, I’m always doing the same thing. Feeling good in the movement and flow of the moments that are the simplest. Maybe quieting is the point for me. Finding the undizzying, the unremarkable, the ho-hum, the routine to be the stuff of what makes a life feel pleasurable.

In fact, the story Breakfast in Cambodia in 2016 was about this routine idea. That book is a compilation of articles for the same magazine from that time, and this book contains Kismuth & The Way II.

I like quiet space. I always have. This book expands on it, in vignettes from Phnom Penh. / Photo: Debby Hudson

Finding quiet: a universal theme for Kismuth

I feel that this book is about finding out, through an intentional and (mostly) unreported, unanalyzed set of rituals that give you the opportunity simply making time to pay attention to it, what’s best for you, individually. This, despite the competition for your attention to do other things. This, when all of the noise is attentuated and you’ve had a long stretch of time, as was the case for me over the pandemic in a foreign land feeling quite untethered and alone. It’s where you investigate, explore, discover, dream, and plan. What matters to you.

Not everyone will enjoy this quiet story, but those who might feel overwhelmed with everday obligations, texts, flurries of communication-bits that feel confusing or are difficult to process might like to relax. I’m someone who doesn’t have a smartphone and never did. I’m someone who can get to the quiet quickly, because I’m used to it, finding it, and staying there, no matter who says I should ‘get more productive’ or ‘be part of society’ It’s not their choice to make.

Why am I writing about the quiet places? Anyone who loves writing and getting into flow will know. This si where you find things out. The things uniquely your own to uncover, and when, after half a lifetime, you keep going back to the same themes no matter what distant points on the earth you go to for ‘questing,’ the answers are never in the questions, you find, but… for me… in the quiet.

Here’s a link to Into the Quiet, in my non-Amazon online shop.


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