Saturday, May 06, 2006

The sound of silence...

I was reading Katie's POST, and something about it got me thinking about the concept of silence and what it means to me.

Silence and I have a special relationship. I have always been fascinated with it and, I guess, rather drawn to its emptiness.

I came to the conclusion at an early age that the term "deafening silence" should be taken off the list of oxymorons - even before I understood what an oxymoron was. I used to make myself experience absolute silence, because I was convinced that you could hear it. For me, silence sounds like white noise, and the longer you are surrounded by it the louder the white noise becomes. I remember waking up as a little girl and thinking that I'd never get back to sleep. The quiet was just too loud.

It gets back to that whole “nothing is, inherently, something” concept that used to drive me crazy in philosophy.

My favorite “quiet moment”, though, is when there is a power outage in the middle of the night. Suddenly you realize how much noise electricity makes. I have a tendency to wake up when the power goes off, because I notice the void of electrical static. For me, it always sounds like the space around me sighs at the exact moment the electricity is cut. Only at that instant can I make out other noises that I couldn’t hear before, and it makes me long for the summers I spent camping in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

The term “peaceful silence”, though, is different, and I associate it with one sound in particular. The most beautiful sound in the world is the noise that snow makes when it is falling. It is always that “cold quiet”, and the world seems so still – almost as if time itself has stopped. Once, when I was in high school (I went to boarding school in a rural area north of Baltimore, Maryland), we had a blizzard that dropped almost three feet on the small campus. It was freezing, but I waded through the snow and made my way down to the athletic fields that were surrounded by a forest of tall, tall trees. I remember standing there and listening to the sound of the snow drifting to the ground – it was all I could hear. Everything was untouched white and utterly still. The snow was all that was moving or making a noise. It was so beautiful. Peaceful silence.

I think that is why I ended up going to college in upstate New York – I chased the sound of falling snow to the one place where snow falls more than any other in the entire country. I’d take long walks in the snow by myself to clear my head and think. It helped to put things into perspective. I used to imagine, during these quiet walks, that my breath was negativity actualized somehow and the cold air was pure stillness and peace. As I breathed in and out, I’d envision all my problems and stress leaving my body with each breath and being replaced with a sense of calm. The whole world would slow down and – just for a moment – I’d feel like the only person on the planet. Nothing mattered except breathing. Everything was going to be okay. My mind, for once, was resting peacefully.

I miss that…

1 comment:

Amstaff Mom said...

Wow. I can totally picture you walking around in the quiet of the snow. It sounds like a beautiful place.

I love quiet. I love being alone. I know some people don't like quiet, but I covet it.

Me thinks you won't be having much quiet on the cruise, but I hope you have a great time anyways!