By Molly Murfee
It used to really bother me, the week of spring break, when I didn’t have the finances to pack up and take off like everybody else. I longed for the red rock desert, the sway of the ocean, warmth.
Now, I target it as a time to stay home.
I can’t wait to get out there, the Monday after everybody has left, rafts and bikini straps flapping in the proverbial wind behind them, as I pull on my XtraTuffs regardless of the weather, embracing both the moody unsettledness and sun-soaked days alike. I take a long, slow saunter out Peanut Lake, relishing in the absolute nothingness of it all. The no-one-ness of the place. It’s like stepping into a dreamscape, watching the snow melt, then build, then melt again, ever vigilant for the flashes of bounding blue across the white, the shooting stalks of chartreuse emerging at the edge of crystal streams, just now beginning to liquify again.
My shoulders drop. The muscles of my back cascade down my spine and ribs like a waterfall, pooling in my hips. I stop in the dead middle of the muddy road just to breath it in – the silence.
“Ahhhh,” the very few of us that remain nod knowingly in passing.
This world just really is too much for all of us, sometimes, whether we are cognizant of it or not, so distracted we are with our buzzing state of constant activity. Truly we cannot afford to lose this silence, this stillness. I hope we can always pick up our heads and realize we made a choice, to leave the manic insanity of the modern world for this very thing. I hope we never let the noise fully creep in. I hope we fight it back, keep it at bay, balance it out. Our hearts, I feel sure, would burst with that pace of frenetic activity, of incessantly moving from one thing to the next without pause or contemplation, the roaring of our own motion so loud we cannot hear anything outside of ourselves.
What happens when we sell off every single nook of time and space for economic security, pushing the unpurchaseable, treasures like silence and stillness, permanently away?
The silence has just about been obliterated in July, standing our nerve endings on edge like a poofed out cat. I don’t think we were actually meant to live like that, our anxiety and depression tells us so, our primitive beings flung into this modern world without the time, or perhaps desire, to evolve to it. What feels like shoulder-to-shoulder humanity pressing in even on the trail. I mourn the loss of that silent space, that open space, that thing I sought, we all sought, to stay sane, now unavailable in places it once was for all the much too many.
What happened when the entrapments of modern society didn’t exist? The pulsing hum of the refrigerator. The planes overhead. The traffic. What would we have heard in the natural course of our day we no longer can recognize? Wafts of bluebirds’ wings before they arrived? The silently placed paw of a vixen bringing food back to her kits, all the way across the valley?
We get so busy we forget this just being. Settling in and down to the rhythm of what’s around us, rather than imposing something hectically different. Just letting the vessel be open, without perpetually projecting ourselves, satiating it with our noise and busyness, cramming it only with what we know, rather than leaving it available for the mystery, what lies beyond the borders of our skin, something more ancient than our selfish selves. Allowing our mind to wander over thoughts, the universe finally filling it when they flit away.
Creative non-fiction and place-based author Molly Murfee specializes in nature and environmental writing cut with cultural and societal critique. Sign up for the Earth Muffin Memos Blog & Newsletter for more on her ongoing book project; field-based Writing & Connection Workshops; online advertising and syndicate column opportunities; and freelance writing services at www.mollymurfee.com.