Thursday, December 8, 2011
I am so blessed. I celebrated my last birthday no more than two months ago, I think, and guess what, just yesterday I had another one. Am I the only one who has birthdays this often? What is more, the older I get, the more frequent my birthdays become.
In my house, personal holidays always get moved to the weekend when everybody has more time. This is actually quite cool because on the actual b-day I get to do whatever I want to do and love the most; for me it is always being out there with Nature. This time I could not decide whether to head for the mountains or the ocean. Lucky for me our coast is a bit mountainous so I got the best of two worlds. This time my birthday inspiration came from an article in Orion Magazine. If you are not familiar with it, and yet you like the natural world, I highly recommend it. This article is about silence. We rarely notice these days, but there are very few places left that are not polluted by human made noise, and while we still frequently stop to look, we rarely stop to just listen. The author of this article articulates it beautifully:
"Silence creates an opening, an absence of self, which allows the larger world to enter into our awareness. It brings us into contact with what is beyond us, its beauty and mystery. Silence is not the absence of sounds, but a way of living in the world—an intentional awareness, an expression of gratitude, to make of one’s own ears, one’s own body, a sounding board that resonates in its hollow places with the vibrations of the world.
When wind plays across the maple leaves and sets them in motion, it’s we who are most deeply moved. No one knows why natural sounds speak so directly to the human spirit, but it’s possible to imagine what they say—that we are not separate from the world, not dominant or different. Like stone, like water, like wrens, we carry the shape of the world in our rustling. We are all music, we are all matter in motion, all of us, together sending our harmonies into a black and trembling sky."
So on my birthday I went to search for silence and natural sound. I headed to Big Sur, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I think. I started with a nice, 6mi bluff trail run focusing on sound all the time. If you have not tried focusing on listening to the world around you as you run, you should try it, what an amazing experience this is. I loved the soft crunch of frosted grass under my feet, whisper of wind in the few remaining leaves on trees, and gentle sound of waves way down below.
After hours of soaking up the beauty of the sights and sounds of Big Sur I realized how little attention I have been paying to what the world is saying. Now I wonder if I've been listening to people as well as I have been to the world. Maybe it is time I went silent more often so I could hear better...