Living in today’s society, I find it very hard to experience silence.
Sure, you can have a quiet moment now and then but if you’re anywhere near civilization, you will still have background noises – traffic, children playing outside, etc. When I say “silence”, I don’t mean that, I am talking about the complete void of sound and getting to experience that, I think, is a gift but a gift can have its pros and cons.
I remember getting to experience a dose of silence early last August when I decided to park my car on the side of this road after maneuvering curve after curve skillfully and slowly. When I turned off the engine and stepped out of the car, I thought I had gone deaf for a moment.
There was absolutely no sound.
I cannot remember the last time I experienced silence like this – probably never. Even on my hikes, when I stood completely still, I would sometimes still hear the faint hum of a helicopter nearby or insect buzzing around but it was never this still.
After several beats, as if my hearing suddenly sharpened, I began to hear something else. I heard birds chirping in the distance and the sound of woodpeckers doing their thing. Among the sound of wildlife, I heard no man-made noises. No engine humming, tires gliding on the road, and no planes of any sort buzzing in the sky above. It was a wonderful thing to experience.
Sometimes, silence may not be such a good thing to experience.
I recently got to experience that level of silence again when I went hiking in my local woods a few days before the new year. It was strange because of all the times I hiked this trail, it was full of urban noises but that day, it was quiet, almost eerie.
After crossing a bridge, I reached the shoreline trail of what used to be Lake Bonneville. It was the spot to view the whole city. I thought about turning back at that point because my anxious brain was playing out scenarios of me slipping and falling. Instead of listening to my brain, I kept going and going and going, enjoying the beautiful day and the silence I’ve been yearning.
All of a sudden, I heard something snap. Immediately, I focused my hearing but all I could hear was my heart pounding while my mind was screaming every kind of beastly animal in the vocabulary. A bear? A mountain lion? An elk? A moose?
I turned back, picking up my speed while paying attention to my steps. It would be difficult during the summer because there would be loose rocks. Thankfully, I reached the bridge and people. I don’t think I’ve ever been more glad to see another human being.