Silence teaches us about inner selves

By Lnn Moncus

“Silence is golden” is a statement most appreciated by people who have a low tolerance for noise and who like to spend much time in the wide open spaces. Those of us who grew up on the land and knew it before technology came into fashion understand each other when we say that silence can be deafening.

Last Sunday, for instance, Aggie and I were out in the valley and just happened to hit one of those days during which the wind was calm, engines were so far away we couldn’t hear them, and even animals and insects were making no noise. That wonderful silence simply pounded a very loud tattoo on our ear drums and made us look around to enjoy the lack of noise. An almost audible roar tends to take over when such silence sets in and makes one wonder how that lack of sound can be so beautiful and so restful.

‘Tis a most rare occasion when some sounds aren’t interrupting that silence, and a body needs to stop to enjoy it and to do some uninterrupted thinking. Although the event may not last long, it is most special because it gives the mind a chance to act or to rest, depending upon the mood.

I guess I was in that usual lazy mood of wanting to rest and to listen to that absence of sound for I sat there for some minutes just looking at the surrounding beauty and keeping my breathing slow so it couldn’t be heard. Aggie seemed to enter the same game because she just sat beside me and looked around without evenpanting.

The sun was just going down, and the shadows were very long as we viewed the clear sky, saw the last rays, and listened for distant sounds only to hear none. The spell was finally broken when a plane flew over, but the feeling remained for a brief period as we continued to relax and enjoy the fresh air.

If you haven’t taken time to hear such silence, you haven’t the faintest idea what this column is about, but if you have, you also are much aware that some people simply cannot tolerate the absence of sound, especially the young people of today who have not had the opportunity to be away from one kind of noise or another. I used to watch people who would visit us in the canyons as they became aware of a modicum of silence and noted that they usually began to talk more loudly than usual and were not interested in ceasing their monologue until they could at least hear bird song or a buzzing bee.

As I grew older, I was more amazed to learn how uncomfortable so many people were when not surrounded by one kind of noise or another. I remember threatening a young fellow with a fast trip to the bottom of the canyon if he didn’t turn off his portable radio while we were walking around the rim of the canyon. He couldn’t stand the silence and soon headed back to the car where he felt he might be safe.

Of course, most of us who enjoy silence wouldn’t want to live in it indefinitely because we tend to like to talk to each other too much, but we surely can learn a lot about each other by watching expressions when those rare occasions of almost total silence come along.

Go to the country some time and check on the silence of the Ilano or just on the silence of any part of the land. You may learn much about yourself.