A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. -Jean Arp, artist and poet (16 Sep 1887-1948)
Anu Garg - A Word A Day
What’s your experience with silence? Silence, of course, is not without sounds, just without human created sounds.
A top experience of my life was a hike across the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho. Just me and a friend, we hadn’t seen each other for a year. The first day was an epic 12 mile slog from 3500’ to over 9000’ carrying 80 pound packs - talking all the while about life “back in town” - for me, Missoula - for Ron, law school in Nashville. Day 2 was a high elevation slow motion roller coaster, still reliving regular life and expounding our thinly shaped philosophies in conversation for most of the day, then suddenly (in an unnoticed and completely undramatic way) we lost the urge to chatter about things elsewhere in time and space, spending the vast majority of our time simply being present, hearing the scuffing thump of our boots carrying us along the trail, the wind in the pines, the steadier wind moving in and out of our bodies deeply and regularly, the crack and pop of pine burning in our camp's cooking fire. Not lost in thought, but floating in a quiet silence in the mind.
Eleven days later, as we summited the final ridgecrest between us and civilization, we heard the sound of a motor, coming from a boat on a lake more than 10 miles away. It was intrusive and foreign, though barely hearable. In a few more miles we could smell the stench of its two stroke exhaust.
Some six hours later I was walking on a sidewalk in Missoula to a friend’s house after hitching a ride from the trailhead. Still in full backpacker mode, I was immersed in the sounds, sights, and smells of suburbia, and it was surreal - disorienting, and pressing upon a feeling of calm freedom that I had grown accustomed to for more than a week and a half without interruption.
By evening, all was back to “normal”, chattering and drinking beer with friends in the Stockman’s Bar, where you are greeted at the door by a sign informing, “Liquor up front, poker in the rear.” Civilization… ahhhh!