Friday, July 8, 2011

Can You Hear The Silence?

Imagine hearing nothing but the waves on sand, the breeze through tall grasses and the cries of shore birds.

Think of all the noise you hear every day, the noise you’re hearing right now. Much of it is background, white noise, sounds that you’ve tuned out but that continue to bombard your system. Think of all those sounds, those decibels of man-made noise.

Maybe you thrive on it. You’ve got the television on all day, just for the company. You’ve got the mp3 tunes pumped through stereo speakers. Your music inspires you, energizes you.

How about the sound of silence? Do we hear it anymore? Is there any place not touched by human noise?

I’m headed to one such place today. For the next few weeks I’ll be camping on the sand inside a remote bay on Kodiak Island, Alaska. There’s a creek that burbles, the ocean waves that rumble and shush, breezes that tickle the tall beach grasses, insects that buzz the riot of wild flowers growing there in profusion, and the musical sounds of little birds in the brush.

In all our time there last year the only human noise we heard was an occasional small plane flying overhead and the diesel rumble of a fisherman’s boat in the bay as he checked his crab pots.

The solitude did wonders for me. It was time away from everything distracting, everything rushed and unimportant. I was able to think about my writing in a detached way. When the urge to write became too much, I wrote in the sand - just names, but seeing them gave me a thrill. I knew I’d return to write their stories and be better for my enforced writing break.

And so it is that I look forward to the next few weeks of silence. I’ll be walking the beach and picking up whale bones, sitting beside the fire made of driftwood, hiking the hills and exploring the creeks.

I’ll see y’all later.


  1. Enjoy, Susan! I do envy your silence as the trucks, cars, and trains rumble by my house. My study is close to the street and I'm an old hand at shutting it all out. Take care.

  2. Hope you're having a great time Susan! I hope, if I can organise blog posts in advance and not worry about commenting or the Forum or anything, that I can do the same in August, even if it's only a week. A beach is a great cure all.

  3. Ah, as I sit here listening to the traffic and the kids playing computer games and arguing, I do envy you ...

    Have a wonderful time, Susan!

  4. Oh good, yes--silence. Humans, especially Americans, lack it. A lot. One reason I don't write with music going. I like simple things. Why have something on I would just have to tune out??

  5. Sometimes it is important just to BE. Silence is good for that.

    I envy you your holiday. I need to work on finding something like that for me occassionaly.

  6. I hope you're having a ball in the silence out there :) I miss living in the country and getting to walk in quiet places- it's definitely hard to get that mental space when you're in the city and surrounded by clamour at all times. I look forward to absorbing some of your newly gained calm when you get back!