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Sounds and Silence

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Photo by Gretchen Engel

Last week I veered from the theme of my previous posts to address what was on my mind. Now I’ve come (back) to my senses. Smell, sight, touch, taste, and now sound.

Friday was our wedding anniversary and to celebrate my husband and I went hiking. We started with a short family hike in our neighborhood to see some petroglyphs. Envy me now. We have ancient drawings at the end of our cul-de-sac.

Later, as a couple, we took a trail that would have been too challenging for our kids. At the beginning, we walked and talked together then at some point my husband, and I began walking at our own pace, which kept us several yards apart. An offhand comment from my husband made me realize what he wanted, and needed was the silence. And so did I. So for the better part of our three-mile hike, we walked in solitude.

Toward the end, we compared notes. Both of us spent the time enjoying God’s creation, praying, and finding peace. Just because we didn’t fill up our couple time with sound or touch, we were very much together. We experienced a rigorous hike that included numerous (some wet) creek crossings, scrambling across rock, bushwhacking through a meadow, and even bouldering up a short wall. It was a common bonding experience yet one we enjoyed in our own way. We went out for dinner so there was also conversation time.

As for sounds, listening is easier said than done. I’d love to have a post filled with all of the subtle sounds I heard when I finally “shut up”. But no. My mind talks more than my mouth. But I did do some listening. For the most part, distant thunder was the dominant sound. It’s monsoon season, so afternoon storms are a part of life. Fortunately, we only felt a drizzle, which is pretty insignificant after you’ve missed a rock and put your feet in the creek for the third (or fourth or sixth) time.

Daily life is different and the same. I hear much better than I listen. Right now I hear the computer fan in concert with our ceiling fans, the clacking of my keyboard, and I swear a hum from the dimmer switch in my office light. But there’s also the dominant sound that distracts. Tonight it’s the raccoon who has made it his personal challenge to defeat the automatic cat feeder then my husband shooing off said miscreant. My hero!

When you’re alone, do you listen or does your mind keep talking?

If you had a day with a loved one would you rather do something together in silence or do nothing but sit next to each other and talk?


About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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