In Search of the Elusive “Blessed” Silence

“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.” ~Henry David Thoreau

I wish this was true for me.  I used to crave silence.  Never one to blare the music or thrive in a crowd, you’d usually find me in some corner in a back room by myself reading a book.  But now that I’m older and I’ve got a plethora of life experience under my belt, I tend to let my thoughts and analysis get away from me…especially when it’s quiet.

Which usually means the middle of the night.

So, I’ve taken to listening to podcasts or music on my iPod as a way of distracting my thoughts…occupying some portion of my brain in order to fatigue and flog my neurons into submission perhaps.

And usually it works.

But now I’ve found (because of the few warm days we’ve had) that the upright fan in my room supplies a nice, neutral monotonously numbing hum, which serves as back up to the iPod.  Now I’ve become addicted and I wonder if I’ll need to have the fan on in the dead of winter.

I do like a sort of silence.  The kind that exists in when I’m sitting in my office at school and I can hear an insulated murmuring and buzzing of voices around me.  The noise itself grounds me but the silence relaxes.  I can create this same “silence” at home.  I’ll turn the radio on in a neighboring room…to hear the voices but not to follow their purpose.

The only time I seem to be able to handle a pristine silence seems to be when I’m outside in the middle of nowhere.  Easy to do when growing up on the farm.  All I’d have to do is walk out the front door and a quarter a mile into the field to the first bush.

Then just sit.  And hear absolutely nothing but the wind in the leaves.

I’ve been able to find this silence in other welcoming wildernesses:  in the middle of a mountain lake near Jasper, in an expansive green park in the center of Tokyo, on an early morning before the arrival of surfers in Waikiki.

I’ve come to realize that a “blessed” silence is one that serves as a sanctuary

, one that brings an end to a sense of unsettledness,

one that is so powerful it can, itself, silence the runaway thoughts.

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