In a field where horses used to graze there is an oval path of laid down grass. That path was not made by the horses. It was made by dirt bikes kicking up their heels in the abandoned field.
I mention this because I am lamenting the loss of silence. Not just the absence of noise, but also the silence of inactivity.
I have just returned from a visit to the California redwoods where I experienced silence like snowfall. Even in a crowded campground, the calm at night was amazing and nurturing. There were no sirens, no lawnmowers or leaf blowers, no cell service tempting me to check my voice mails, emails or what my friends were doing on Facebook. I read, I walked in the woods, I sat for hours simply staring into the fire drinking in the silence.
I am one of a small number of people who hears the Hum… a low, drone like noise that could be likened to an engine idling…an almost constant companion for me in the modern world. It’s not my ears ringing, or the sound of boats wandering up and down the Salish Sea, and it was not present in the Redwoods.
My vacation was so rejuvenating that I feel as if I was gone for a month, and yet it was only eight days. And then I came home to 149 emails and a blinking red light on my telephone. As I begin the slow process of re entry, I want to be mindful of the choices I make and the ways in which I create my own constant hum. I want to create islands of inactivity in my days where I can deeply rest.
If I have any religion at all, it is the worship of silence. My visit to the Redwoods was a reminder of what true sanctuary feels like and if I cannot have a daily dose of it, I can at least create a Sabbath where I stop the motion and the immersion, the alarms and ringers, the worry that if I step away from the world I will miss something. Because I feel so blessedly full from my time without that constant contact.
Thanks so much for the reminder. It’s been a long long time since I experienced the Redwoods. Oddly, it’s as if I needed someone’s permission to STOP each day – maybe even at a designated time – to do nothing but stare. True silence is so difficult to achieve. I’m adding refrigerator hum to your description of the “drone” of daily life. I remember being startled and amazed by the absolute silence after a motorcycle ride to a higher altitude. Above the birds. Ahhhh…
Isn’t that interesting about the permission thing! I had to wrestle with myself awhile to let it be OK to do nothing. Absolutely nothing but sit in silence. Which in these days seems to be a huge accomplishment!!