As the noises of life and the distractions from media and our gadgets grow, I seem to enjoy quiet more and more. Not the absence of sound, but the opportunity to listen to the birds, the wind, my own thoughts. I love taking long walks on the beach and hiking in the hills.
Where I live now, in south Louisiana especially in the summertime, I’m not able to travel those paths with any frequency. I miss my outdoor time amongst the sounds of nature.
I have found quiet inside my home. I can still hear the birds chirping, and from my writing desk I see squirrels eat the birdseed I’ve set out. I watch bees, butterflies, and dragonflies enjoy the nectar from the flowers we’ve planted in the garden.
My creative life has actually flourished, possibly due to spending more time inside. And yet, it took a recent meditation retreat, a time for sitting in silence with other like-minded people, to help recharge my creative batteries. Sometimes stepping outside our normal routine to do nothing, or very little, is what helps us get back on track or gives us the courage to step out in a new direction.
Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist, says that we are losing natural places of quiet at an alarming rate. Silence is like an endangered species. In a conversation with Krista Tippett, he says, “Not too long ago, it was assumed that, ‘Oh, clean water is not important.’ But now it is, and we’re cleaning that up. That, ‘Oh, seeing the stars is not that important.’ And now I think we’re realizing quiet is important, and we need silence; that silence is not a luxury, but it’s essential. It’s essential to our quality of life and being able just to think straight.”
Clean water, clean air, dark night skies, and quiet are some of the essentials for living a life of quality.
How do you incorporate silence into your daily life? What are your favorite places to enjoy quiet? What have you learned from being in silence?
The Joy of Quiet by Pico Iyer, an essay.
Silence and the Presence of Everything by Gordon Hempton an interview with Krista Tippett at On Being.