September 3, 2011
It’s very rare that I get a breath to breathe; that I get a chance to completely relax. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that but I keep thinking about this moment I had a few years ago. I was at Yosemite National Park with a lady friend walking a rather boring and unchallenging trail, but we kept on it until it became secluded and isolated. We kept on the path until it led us to an abandoned stable which had been almost completely reclaimed by grass and vegetation. It was there that the trail ended and gave way to total silence.
There was no sound of speeding cars coming from a freeway in the distance, there were no other people talking, we got no cell phone reception, and there weren’t any birds chirping either—the only thing that we could hear was our own breathing. I have never experienced silence like that; not before that moment and not since. It was almost overwhelming to be engulfed so suddenly by something that I didn’t even know existed. It took me a few minutes to let my guard down enough to appreciate what I had stumbled upon. Then of course once I realized that I had discovered peace I didn’t want to leave.
I found myself in the throes of a powerful silence that made a mockery of everything that I was raised to respect. As adolescents we all dreamed of driving big expensive cars with loud engines and a pounding sound system. As little boys everyone wanted to have the biggest voice on the playground so that he could tell everyone else what to do. As college students we were expected to make connections with influential people in order to network and make a positive change. The idea was to join the team that was making the most noise so that one day you yourself would be heard.
It was wild because all of the politicking, all of the networking, all of the set claiming, all of the turf banging, and all of the pledging that people become so obsessed with felt like a whole lot of noise pollution as I stood there in perfect silence. I was content with hearing only the faint sound of my own breath and the breath of the woman I was with; and everything else, including the shouting of my memories during that moment, struck me as being excessive.