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Walking in Silence

I went out for a hike last evening when I got home from work. It was later, like 7 pm. A time that I am usually occupied at home. Since I got back from vacation though, the house has felt small to me and I have wanted to be outside. I have been sitting with the goats in the backyard or the dog and I have taken off and hiked the river trail.

It was a usual walk, I first listened to an audible book. Then when I could no longer concentrate on the subject matter: Neuroplasticity, cognitive brain development and trauma, I switched to music per usual. However, the music just irritated me which never happens. I felt this amazing need for quiet. Stillness and quiet. Well, I was on a hike so stillness was not going to happen. But quiet I could manage.

So I took my AirPods off and just walked in silence. I heard each footfall, I heard the birds singing their sunset songs, I heard rabbits scurrying out of my way. I heard the hawks piercing cries as they hunted for dinner. The natural world is anything but quiet. However, compared to my world and the human world in general, it was stupid quiet.

And I wondered...why do we humans make so much noise? Talking, yelling, singing, blaring music and television sets? Why do we feel the need to fill the silence so often? What is it about the quality of our thoughts that makes us want to play things that are louder than our inner voices? Why does there appear to be an incessant need to drown out the natural world and our own inner dialogue?

I can only answer for myself. I play music or podcasts or audible books so that I can exit. It is something that distracts me from me. And it wasn’t until last night as I walked in silence, in tune with the natural world, that I realized that whatever I am engaging to cover up my inner thoughts and feelings, is really just a lot more noise. And for the first time, I perceived it that way. Music and audible books was just more noise.

Now I am sure that I won’t feel that way forever. But I did, last night, for the first time, I stopped the compulsive input long enough to notice that I was doing it AND to then make a decision to stop doing it.

So I walked in silence with myself. My own thoughts meandering to and fro, no real trajectory or cadence to them. Just moving along at my own physical pace and allowing my thoughts to do the same. It was a nice way to walk. I really appreciated the silence. I enjoyed the lack of sound. So much so that I was able to notice all the sounds that I miss because I am always and forever plugged into to some sound producing device.

I guess I realized last night that silence is golden. Silence is meaningful. Silence is something that I need more of...peace and quiet.

So I gave it to myself. And it was wondrous.

I decided that I liked hiking sans music. I liked walking and just hearing what nature had to say to me instead of always creating my own hike thematic music. Walking and thinking. And thinking only because I can’t make it stop. And, fuck, sometimes, I would really like to make my head shut the fuck up!

But last night there was communion. There was silence in my ears and peace in my heart. I walked alone with myself and my dog. We moved together across the dusty trail. Watching nature’s exit show for the day. While I walked in silence homeward the sky lit up with pink and blue. As I walked the river bottom, the sun appeared to bid farewell to the day without much fanfare. A quiet exit today. But as I neared home, walking without sound, the sky changed itself and erupted into pink and blue. When I returned home to the sanctuary of my backyard, it was a glow and infused in pink luminous light.

So I sat down with the dogs and goats and bathed in it. We all sat there until it was gone, and we were shrouded in darkness. I tucked the animals away in their pen, allowed the dogs to follow me inside and got ready for bed. And as I climbed into bed last night, I thought to myself:

“That was the best hike I have had in a very long time. “

And I fell asleep in silent marvel at the life I get to lead.

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