There is little more staggeringly poetic than the sounds right before dawn. The multifaceted vocalizations of the Barred Owl, the whisper of leaves as they make ready to greet the sun, tiny movements in grass and trees. Life is occurring, and there’s enough stillness to actually be able to hear it in its fullness.
Before long, the hum of human existence takes over: the whir of coffeemakers, computers, cars, trains, radios, TVs, iPods, cell phones, laptops, transformers, talking, thinking, projecting ~ and on it goes. The morning beauty of stillness has been relegated to a nice idea. A sort of sideshow. The cacophony is so prevalent that we’ve become desensitized to it.
Take a moment and recall a power outage, that instant when all humming in our life suddenly falls silent. The refrigerator, outside power lines, lights, all the electronics we take for granted inside and outside of our homes are muted. As inconvenient as these times are for many of us, the new-found silence is unmistakable. It’s as if we’re able to hear ourselves — and our existence — for the first time.
Silence is something you assume you will always be able to find if you need it. All you have to do is drive far enough in the right direction, trek through quiet fields or woods, or dive into the sea’s belly, for true silence is not noiselessness. As audio ecologist Gordon Hempton defines it, silence is “the complete absence of all audible mechanical vibrations, leaving only the sounds of nature at her most natural. Silence is the presence of everything, undisturbed.”
Now, add to that sound reverie the capability to hear many times more effectively. To scent untold many times more. And, within that ability of extreme heightened senses, you are trapped within the confines of a home without access or voice to the volume control. Let’s explore some of the ways we could assist our animal companions and enhance our partnership with them inside the home.
Be conscious of the stereo, radio, and television noise levels, especially when our animal companions are in the room. Make sure they have access to some quiet time, if desired. Sunlight, fresh air, and tranquility are havens for all of us. Try it some time! See how wonderful it can be to actually have access to your own inner world.
As for me, I’m still searching for that place in this world of 7 billion people and counting where there is true silence.
What’s your most precious memory of quiet solitude within nature?