Before Love of My Life and I left for this vacation, I’d read an article about this fellow, a “sound ecologist,” who stated that silence is an endangered concept. He also specified that silence is not so much absence of sound but rather lack of focus.
Indeed, one is usually bombarded by such a cacophony it translates into noise. Unless we make the effort to separate the stimuli for what they are individually, that is all it seems to be. I had a problem doing that out here in the middle of the Utah desert!
I do not remember when I’ve experienced so utter and complete a silence. The last time I'd vacationed here around Moab, my kids were young and it was challenging to focus on one sound or another unless I got them to specifically sit and listen — to nothingness.
Now, as Ed and I cut out into the vast territory east of town to explore, it was almost deafening. One crow. The sound of dirt underfoot ... until you sat still. I’m not talking about brief seconds here; I mean for hours on end! No airplanes, no wind. Uber quiet.
What an interesting sensation that was! (Provided you have food and water and an idea of where your car is; over those hills in line with those mesas in the distance.) I did take the opportunity to focus — on my breathing, on the sound of my heart beating (I swear!) and contemplate the vastness of the world.
I don’t think a whole lot of people get that opportunity nor do they even want it, I suppose. Ed commented some time ago that sure it was easy for these monks to meditate and sit silent and corral good karma when they didn’t have a bunch of kids running around needing rides to practice or having to get the car fixed when there was no money to do so.
Obviously monks have worries of their own, we agreed, but we also recognized the importance, nay, essential-for-survival need to find silence in your life to regain focus. Hence, the increased promotion by western medical practitioners, I believe, of meditation even if it is only for 10 minutes a day.
Like I said, with my essential needs met there in the desert for those hours, I was able to focus my breath (which I needed to, as I’m so pathetically out of shape) and my thoughts (well — and to hunt for cool rocks). Other than the screaming of my overworked thighs, my worries crumbled like the sandstone under my feet.
While I don't expect (nor want) everyone to trundle off to the wilds of Utah or other beautiful unspoiled expanse to find themselves, I do know for a fact (even when the little ones were ... well ... little) that by simply stepping outside by oneself, in a park, in a yard on a balcony overlooking Park Avenue (OK, I’m guessing at that one, but I did grow up in Los Angeles), you can more easily regain some sense of composure, of connectedness.
I realize I’ve preached this concept often over the years, but again I invite you to direct your children, direct yourself, to daily tune in (listen to sounds and sensations individually) and tune out the world (focus on one thought at a time — technically, that's all we CAN do) and turn on to the possibilities.