Silence can be a scary thing, and in the hustle and bustle of modern life, we go to great lengths to avoid it. We are constantly surrounded by noise with our TVs on in the background, our iPods plugged into our ears, and our cell phones ringing again and again. There’s a lot of other “noise,” too. We have so much to do. Jobs, family, and other obligations keep us distracted with their constant thrum in our minds. We rarely give the power of silence a chance to get even a finger hold on our attention.
Why do we avoid silence?
The most common reason is likely because without the noise, we are simply left alone with our thoughts. We begin to question our choices, to think about the future, and even to become dissatisfied with the present. It’s much easier to keep ourselves distracted than it is to face the very hardest questions and realizations about our own lives.
Of course, this is precisely where the power of silence lies. By being still, we give ourselves an opportunity to reflect. We can examine our current situations and make course corrections, the need for which would never have been noticed amidst the cacophony of sound—both the literal and the figurative noise that steals our focus.
The realizations that come to us when we are silent aren’t all terrifying and negative, either. Being still allows the opportunity to recognize how very blessed we are. A quiet heart has time to be grateful and to share its abundance with others. Which brings up another interesting point about avoiding silence…
How often do we sit in silence with another human being?
Rarely, if ever.
Have you ever noticed that one of the ways people describe being in love is to use phrases like, “We can just sit together without talking.” Being silent with another person is so difficult, that when it happens, we recognize that there is a very special connection to that individual. It is, in fact, one of the most intimate things that we do.
Many people avoid being silent because they fear it will harm others’ opinions of them. Take for instance the class clown who always feels the need to get a laugh or the nervous interviewee who stammers and rambles rather than becoming silent after answering a question. We often become nervous when a silence is perceived as being too long, and we feel the need to fill that void.
Of course, “filling a void” is precisely what we’re doing when we surround ourselves with constant noise and chatter. By talking, we are proving our worthiness. By watching TV, we are avoiding letting our thoughts wander. We blog, we Twitter, we text message all day long. All of these provide ways for us to avoid silence. We don’t focus on our own shortcomings, or perhaps even more importantly, our desires.
Avoiding silence also allows us to avoid thinking about what we want and what we don’t have. Again, it’s filling a void that many people feel when they don’t have the things, feelings, or relationships that they truly desire. It takes silence for us to turn inward and examine our desires. More importantly, it takes the power of silence for us to create a path to attaining those things. If we remain distracted, we don’t have to think about the things we don’t have, but we also don’t develop a plan to manifest them.
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The concept of creativity is subjective, but those with a “creative soul” somehow stand out from the pack. They find beauty in everything and have a remarkable ability to innovate. Whether your interest lies in the traditional arts or extends to include more technological aspects of the subject, there is a lot to be said for finding a community that can nourish and inspire your creative tendencies.
So, putting together a list of best US cities for the creative soul must also be somewhat subjective. Companies like Wanted Technologies base their recommendations on things like the marketplace for those seeking jobs in creative fields. Flavorwire.com has created a list of international cities that have a lot to offer “young artists,” based on things like public works, city-funded projects, and various other considerations. Finding the right place depends a lot upon your specific needs, but using a variety of criteria, here are five of the best US cities for the creative soul.
For the sake of offering some less well-known choices, some cities in top ten have been omitted. Obviously, Nashville (#7) has an incredible reputation for singers and songwriters, for example. New York City (#4) is a hot spot for writers. Los Angeles (#1) is famous for its opportunities for actors. Some of these others, though, may come as more of a surprise.
Sperling’s BestPlaces used the art and culture index, as well as population diversity and percentage of young residents. It’s debatable whether age needs to come into play, but their findings do offer some insight into great places for anyone wanting to nurture that creative soul.
Five of their top ten included:
• Santa Fe, New Mexico – With amazing scenery and a thriving arts community, it’s easy to see how this city made it onto the list. Sperling’s found that there were about 36 art establishments in the area per 100,000 people.
• Carson City, Nevada – The state capital, Carson city offers a whole lot for the creative soul, from theatre and galleries to a focus on wine and cuisine. It is estimated that Carson City has about 25 art establishments per 100,000 people.
• Kingston, New York – While New York City gets a lot of attention for its theatres (think Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off Broadway, etc.) and museums, Kingston has a lot to offer, as well, with approximately 13 art establishments per 100,000 people.
• Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California – Of course, Los Angeles is a Mecca for creative types, but two other California entries made it into the top ten (San Francisco was #9). The Oxnard-thousand Oaks-Ventura area boasts about 13 art establishments per 100,000 people.
• Boulder, Colorado – With a reputation for amazing outdoor activities, Boulder has plenty to offer the creative soul. Sperling’s estimates there are about 11 art establishments per 100,000 people in Boulder.
The advent of the technological age has made it possible for many creative types to work and create from just about anywhere. A freelance graphic artist in the small town of Libby, Montana can work directly with a company in Seattle, Washington without having to leave home. A writer in Pennsacola, Florida can easily submit her work to an agent in Chicago, Illinois. Inspiration and creativity are not limited by geography, but for some, the desire to be surrounded by other creative types, to have many opportunities to experience creative works on a civic level, and to simply discover the joy of new places is important for nourishing the creative soul.
Of course, art establishments are just one indicator of what a city can offer. Many of these cities are surrounded by amazing topography, thriving industries, and advantages for singles or families. Choosing the right US city to live in for the creative soul takes a personal perspective of what is most important to you.