QUIET
I’ve always had a penchant for all
things QUIET: quiet people, quiet places, quiet music, quiet walks, and quiet
books, to name but a few.
Recently, I’ve read three books on
QUIET  that warrant some reflection,
especially from a storyteller’s perspective.

Front Cover
 A word or two (well actually a
whole blog spot) on each!
“Quiet” by Susan Cain
The book’s appeal for me lies in
the author’s ability to write with deep passion and humor on so many issues
that I have often thought about – fleetingly, but have never taken the time to
reflect or ponder upon more deeply – until now.I used to explain my predilection
for all things QUIET to the noisier members of my family and friends by
claiming a bit of fairy blood.  All
Scots/Irish people know that fairies hate noise.
   (One of my favorite read-alouds on this is
The Woman who Flummoxed the Fairies – an old Scots tale retold by Heather
Forest). 
Of course, noisy skeptics (and
maybe even a few quiet ones) might scoff at such airy fairy musings.  But in “Quiet”, Susan Cain frequently alludes
to the fact that many cultures are quieter than others.  Needless to say, America is right at the top
of the noisy/loud/extrovert ladder, whereas we Scots/Irish are a little lower
down!
The whole premise of the book is
that introverts, who she defines as “quiet people who prefer listening to
speaking, who create, but dislike self-promotion, and who prefer to work on
their own rather than in  teams, have
long been undervalued in our society. 
She explores how extroverts have come to dominate our culture, she
challenges us to see the value of silence and solitude, and she encourages us
to offer kids in schools more QUIET time. 
 
“Quiet leadership is not an oxymoron,” she says.
Hmmm…talk about singing to the
choir!
After reading this book, I am more
grateful than ever for my Scots/Irish childhood.  I grew up in a culture that valued all things
QUIET. 
When I was a wee girl, my dad would always
press his fingers to his lips and warn me to tread lightly as we passed by a
lone bush in the fields of Ireland, lest we frighten off the fairy folk who
would be hiding there. 
On winter mornings, when my dad
came to wake us from our sleep, he would always whisper, so as not to disturb the hallowed hush of a
new day dawning.
And as a young teacher in Scotland, I
learned early on from an older, wiser colleague, that the best way to tame a
rowdy class, was simply to start talking in a very low, soft voice.  Pretty soon a hush would descend, as the
children strained to hear what I was saying. 
Curiosity trumped the need to chatter!
In public places Scottish people
speak much more softly than their American counterparts.  When we took our daughter back to visit
Scotland, we ate lunch at a pub in the countryside.  Halfway through the meal, she leaned over and
whispered to my husband and me, “This is like eating in a library!” (She had
been raised in the era where libraries were actually places of QUIET!)
Thinking by talking aloud (a common
practice in American culture) is frowned upon in Scotland. “Don’t talk the arms
out of a waistcoat!” was a frequent admonition to the more loquacious members
on a board or committee! 
The Scots subscribed to that old adage,
“children should be seen and not heard,” and while that notion is somewhat
outdated now (and rightly so), it did hold some merit.  As the youngest child, I spent many hours
sitting on the edge of adult conversation, just listening. 
All of these cultural factors
really served as my storyteller’s apprenticeship.  
So, how can we encourage our little
ones to seek out more QUIET time, to value silence and listening and spend more
time BEING versus DOING?
By basking in stories of
course…..good stories that leave room for pondering and reflection, wonder, and
mystery.
Coming soon – QUIET 2!