The Beauty of Silence

This past week I was on vacation. I had been working so much, I had not made the time to plan what I wanted to do.

Last Sunday night I decided to sit in a coffeehouse every morning, drink my favorite elixirs and write. The next day I decided I would hike some of the Maryland trails. So for five days straight, I wrote and hiked.

Each morning for three hours, I sipped on coffee and wrote on my laptop with café music in the background. I engaged in periodic banter with the natives, but for the most part I was quiet, letting my thoughts flow as I tickled the keyboard.

In afternoon I walked up and down the dirt trails, soaking in the lush greenery and hilly landscapes. It was incredibly peaceful to walk through the woods, absorbing the sounds of the birds, insects, frogs, and occasionally watching deer in the distance eating grass or hoping around, their legs gracefully carrying them through the air.

I would stop to take photos and videos, attempting to capture the beauty and serenity all around me. I took naps and ate by the river. It was magical at times.

It was challenging to silence the voices from the outside world that constantly inhabited my brain: the perpetual everything I-had-to-do-list, the meetings and projects, conflicts that needed resolving, random songs that played on a loop, past experiences and future concerns that kept me out of the present.

It took effort, and I would say that 50 percent of the time I was successful completely clearing my head. The other percent I made the noise less significant, enabling myself to enjoy the moment.

Being silent felt so good, and in the midst of all the majesty I could not fathom not being so.

There were times when I had to quell my annoyance toward others I encountered that were having loud conversations with their companions. Could they be so self-absorbed that they were ignorant of what nature was offering?

But my journey is not everyone else’s, and my conclusions felt judgmental. Some people need to talk out their stuff, and nature is their background.

I do believe we as civilized humans spend excessive time talking, and waiting to speak instead of listening, and little time being still. I think we view the quiet as uncomfortable, as if we need something to fill that space, as if verbal communication is the only true and authentic way to communicate.

As I walked, I communicated my respect the nature, and gave my body the verbal cleansing it needed. I rediscovered how much I enjoy the silence, and how being immersed in nature’s splendor filled me.

I’m not purposely making some profound yet common statement about the need to be in tune with our environment. I will say there is a beauty in silence. Perhaps that is a balance we seek.

I can only speak for me. Or, maybe I won’t speak at all.

Ron Kipling Williams