One of the things I’ve wanted to incorporate into this latest iteration of WWJD is to use it as a forum for some of my non-blog writing. Some of it may be experimental, a work in progress, or just plain unfinished. Some of it may end up in a book I’m working on. Or it may not. I hope you’ll enjoy it in the spirit it’s offered.
For most humans, every moment of existence means being surrounded by noise of some sort. Life can be a symphony, a constant performance of sound and commotion unique to each of us. Even in what feel like quiet moments, a low-grade clamor inhabits the background. This is especially true if you live in a populated area. It reminds us that we exist on a living, breathing planet. Everything is agitating to make their presence known. Little in this world is or remains still or silent…certainly not for long.
From a crowded city to a deserted forest, one can isolate sounds, natural or man-made. Some sort of tumult will invariably make itself heard, reminding us we’re not alone.
Bustle and turbulence are characteristic of our day to day existence. It’s the norm, so accustomed are we to the soundtrack of life that we rarely think about it. I know I rarely did. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I’d never known true tranquility and stillness until I was in Iceland with my wife on our honeymoon.
It was our first full day in Reykjavik. We decided to drive out into the countryside to see what we could see. About an hour into our trip, I spied a gathering of somnolent sheep in a field and decided to stop for a photo. I turned off the engine and stepped out of the car…into something I immediately knew I’d never experienced before.
It was silence- total, absolute, and all-encompassing. Not just the lack of any sort of background noise. It was the complete absence of any sort of auditory input. Total peace, stillness, calmness. It was as if I’d been enveloped by absolute nothingness. It pressed against my body, seeping into every pore like shrink wrap. In that moment, I was completely at peace. I felt light, content, and at ease in a way I instinctively knew I’d never experienced before.
Without the background noise that’s the normal soundtrack of my life, I felt disoriented but not distressed. I existed in a vacuum. It was a place in which absolute silence felt almost tangible, as if I could wave my arms and cut through it.
My footsteps generated a muffled report, as if I’d found myself in the midst of a heavy, windless snowfall. I was fascinated to experience something so new and unexpected in a place so unfamiliar.
After a few minutes, my wife rolled her window down and asked me what was taking so long.
Oh, right…sheep…I said I wanted a picture of the sheep….
When I returned to the car, I struggled to explain what had just happened. Less than 24 hours removed from the familiar hum of life in Portland, I’d found something unexpected. I felt changed by it. I knew what it meant to experience, to FEEL silence and the stillness and peace that went with it.