Silence… and the lack of it

animal foot prints on snow near mountain at daytime
Photo by Simon Matzinger on

This blog post is about silence, despite the irony of writing about something called silence. Though a literal definition of silence would suggest my writing does not actually make a sound thereby erasing the irony.

My definition of silence, however, is the complete absence of human contact/noise. Nature’s many sounds don’t count. Just, human voices, human machines, human blah…

So. Irony.

But, moving along:

Silence is… interesting.

On one hand, no one except the deaf can really experience silence. Even if we buy the best noise canceling headset in existence, the kind jet mechanics wear, we can still hear ourselves breathing, our hearts beating, life moving through our body.

True silence is a very elusive thing and one that most people will never experience.

So when I talk about silence, I am not talking about the complete lack of sound, more, what I speak of is a complete lack of human sound.

We have a piece of property that, though not necessarily remote, is a little more remote than most places. On a perfect day, if I sit very still, I can hear only the birds in the trees and the wind through the leaves.

Until an airplane flies overhead.

Or a chainsaw starts up somewhere.

Or the sound of a gun.

The “silence” is inevitably broken by some kind of human noise pollution.

I am not a backcountry backpacker. I camp, but I am not the camper type that straps on a pack and sets out for 20 miles of mountain trails. I can, however, imagine the pristine aspect of “silence” when finding that lone trail through the woods… until the airplane flies overhead.

Sigh. Damn planes.


My point is in this kind of “silence” there is a calm that cannot be emulated in any other way. I know there are books out there (I’ve read them) that proclaim there are ways to propagate silence in the midst of human noise, but I don’t believe it. Now, creating peace amidst the noise is doable, and many of those books are equating silence to peace, but silence in our lives is very rare, if even a possibility.

Of course, the question you might have is: so?

What is so great about silence?

What is so great about moving away from the noise created by humans and between humans? And to be honest, I can’t answer that question for YOU.

But I can answer for myself.

As is the case for any introvert, human interaction exhausts me. Currently, I am on human interaction overload. I’ve had to do a lot of socializing and the concept of not talking to another human being for a very long time is very appealing. As I explain it to my husband, my well is dry and my reserve is dangerously low. However, I am still a wife, mother, and businesswoman. I can’t just stop interacting with humans, no matter how I wish to.

So, then, how do I fill up my reserve, add water to my well?

Yeah. I don’t know.

Seriously. This is the point in the blog that I am supposed to dole out advice on how to regain my reserve, but I’ve got nothing at all. I know in my bones it has something to do with silence, with the ability to step outside of the noise that is human interaction, but I am at a loss as to what that looks like or how to go about doing it.

Even now, writing this blog, I am interacting with an audience. I am thankful for the audience (waves in WordPress), but the very act of writing about silence, cancels it out. Which is why books on silence usually amuse me. The irony and all that.

But honestly, I don’t have the answers. I try to reduce my interactions. I stop listening to music or audiobooks in the car. I go for a run in the woods rather on the road or at the gym. I try to limit human noise, and usually, it helps.


So, lovely readers, what do you do?

Do you chase silence? Or, like my husband, are you someone who finds noise comforting?

Do you live for those brief moments where nothing but the sound of the natural world and your own beating heart fills the void? Or do you only find true peace with sounds all about you?

What is your way of living with the concept of silence?

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