Noise seems to be everywhere. At times it is overwhelming, leading to a desire for silence, an absence of all the noise.
I have never heard silence, that total absence of sound. Doing so seems an impossibility for any person able to hear. Perhaps someone who is deaf can hear total silence, I do not know.
Silence is one of those things people say they want to hear. In this technological world companies make ear covers to keep out all outside noise. I’ve never tried a pair of these, but have no doubt they work.
Several years ago I found this place to sit. The redbud tree has grown. The hillside is above me. The creek is below me. It is a quiet, restful place to sit where time seems to suspend itself.
Even with these silence is not truly possible. There is an old story that, if you hold a large sea shell to your ear, you will hear the ocean. You don’t. You hear the sound of your blood coursing through your ears. These ear covers can’t keep out this sound.
Discounting this, there is still the sound of your breathing. The brain seems wired for sound and can generate clicks and roars, that ringing in the ears to keep silence at bay.
Once spring arrives in the Ozarks, the hills become a place of daily change as wildflowers grow and bloom, trees leaf out, their greens shifting through the summer until they color for fall.
Instead of attempting to find silence, seek quiet. The problem isn’t noise, but the overabundance of noise. Consider the ordinary house.
I’ve walked into houses and heard the television playing to an empty room, the radio blaring elsewhere, computers or other devices spewing music. No one is listening to any of these. They are background noise to keep silence at bay.
Overhead the leaves move in the breeze casting changing shadow patterns on the ground. Above the trees the clouds can make fantastic shapes. Both can let the mind feel quiet.
Even if these devices are turned off, other motors hum. Refrigerators, freezers, water pumps, air conditioners, heaters, all the devices we depend on for our lifestyles rumble along in the background.
In the rural Ozarks a big storm can drop the electric lines. All the motors cease. Intense quiet seeps through the house.
Nerves relax. Muscles relax. Ears strain. Then comes the sigh of relief. A clock is ticking. It’s quiet, not silence, quiet.
The sound of water gurgling down an Ozark creek is restful. Watching the creek can let me spot a snapping turtle or a mink. The simple sounds of wind and water make the mind feel quiet.
For people used to noise, this quiet can become disturbing. There is supposed to be noise, the brain says.
Me? I relished the quiet. I reveled in this quiet. My nerves seemed to relax. My mind let the quiet seep in bringing calmness with it. The resuming hum of the refrigerator, when the electricity came back on, was an intrusion and resented as well as appreciated.
Most of the time quiet must be sought out away from houses or barns or roads. It’s there, out in the woods where the sounds are bird calls and wind. Even better is a snowy field. Snow seems to hush all sounds but the whisper of wind.
I will never find true silence. It’s not what I want. Quiet is preferable. Quiet to hear the world live, the mind think, letting stress seep away.
Savor some of the sights and sounds of the Ozarks in Exploring the Ozark Hills.