Listening to Your Autonomous Voice

The payoff is deep absorption and happiness in something you love

This autonomous voice also recognizes the meaningless posturing, the one-upmanship, and the superficiality of everyday conversation.

Photo Courtesy of Contemplative Life on Facebook


In the Summer 2014 issue of The Hedgehog Review: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Culture, Mark Edmundson, of the University of Virginia, addresses the happiness we forsake when we are too distracted to be absorbed in something we love.

In service of his point, he references William Wordsworth, who had the "ability to do one thing at a time,”; Bertrand Russell, who “believed that paying attention was a form of paying your dues in the interest of being able to possess the best that life offers," and T.S. Eliot, who said, “Teach us to sit still.”

We who love to contemplate our autonomy know of what they speak. The payoff of such focus? The deep absorption and happiness that Edmundson addresses. And the acquisition of a resourceful and substantive life that powerfully informs an independent and forthright voice as well as our day-to-day decisions and actions. Requiring generosity, an open-mind and authenticity, this autonomous voice is an accomplishment beyond comparison.

When we give it its due, this voice vets the forces acting on it—the assumptions, the weaknesses and the deadening protocols inherent in the scattered and intellectually uncurious life.

This autonomous voice also recognizes the meaningless posturing, the one-upmanship, and the superficiality of everyday conversation. It reflects upon the concepts that we use to understand ourselves—giving insight into the subjectivity of happiness. And it creates new reaches of expression based on intellectual honesty and sustained consideration of relevant matter.

The acquisition of a deep and substantive life also calls upon us to celebrate life. To speak with our love. To recognize its expression as an act of intelligence and grace. To hold the relationship, the family, the community together. It reminds us that other people are as real as we are, born like us to their own self-determining natures. We must connect with them in ways reciprocally beneficial; that is, we exchange value and declare it equivalent.

The journey to this sublime happiness, to the creation of the substance of our mind, the distance of our vision and the gravity of our soul is profoundly rewarding. When we’re absorbed by this journey, the heart heavy with distraction and worry is unweighted and the mind’s tumult is eased.

Arnold Siegel is the founder of Autonomy and Life and leader of its Retreat Workshops and Advanced Classes.

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Lasers Light Up Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

Turn off the lights at Fantasy Springs Bowling Center at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and one of America’s oldest recreational sports literally illuminates a whole new persona - laser bowling.

The Purple Room Audience May Recognize Shelagh Ratner's Voice First

Once she appears Sept. 20 at The Purple Room Restaurant & Stage in Palm Springs, it’s likely audience members will have an “aha!” moment upon hearing Shelagh Ratner’s voice.

Charles Busch Brings His Own Show to Copa Palm Springs

Charles Busch, who has portrayed female characters for most of his theater career, will personify Old Hollywood in his solo desert show debut.

Max Adler Delves into Gay Character Again With 'Saugatuck Cures'

Max Adler, known for his breakout role on 'Glee', has a busy fall in store between three films and two TV shows, but locally he can be seen in 'Saugatuck Cures' during Cinema Diverse Palm Springs.

Europa Restaurant Welcomes World-Traveled Chef Kitt Fraser

Executive Chef Kitt Fraser is excited about creating a new Mediterranean-influenced menu for Europa at Villa Royale in Palm Springs.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.