October 06, 2002

The sound of silence

Have you ever heard the sound of silence? Well, I am about to claim that I have. As absurd as it may seem, silence is not something one hears very often. In my opinion, the old maxim "Silence is golden, speech is silver" probably requires some form of revision. Something to the effect of "Silence is golden, speech is silver, jackhammers are bronze, and car stereos blaring are downright outrageous."

You know what I'm getting at. Sometimes I sit back and wonder what silence really sounds like. In our day-to-day urban lives we are too fixated on air pollution, water pollution and <your favorite natural resource here> pollution that somehow noise pollution takes a back seat. But it exists and we all know it. Sitting in my apartment on a weekday, I listen to noises outside that make me wonder if human beings will soon evolve to use alternate forms of aural sensing. Because somehow my ears are not very happy to welcome noise waves from the friendly neighborhood leaf blowers and trash compactor trucks.

I have attempted several times to experience the sound of silence, but it has always eluded me. At 3 am in the morning, the silence is still pierced by my trusty Samsonite travel clock ticking away each of the 86,400 seconds in the day. I yank out the battery, and suddenly my room heater appears to happily announce its presence as though it had been waiting for this moment all its life. Of course, when my heater is off, my refrigerator has to assert itself. And when I walk to another room to escape that, I am forcefully reminded that there is such a thing as my desktop computer busily fanning itself like a geisha to escape its own heat. Of course my vote of flak would not be complete without a mention of the occasional numbskull driving into our sleepy apartment complex with his stereo system barking out oxymoronic rap music. Something about a Dogg eating another Dogg.

Suffice to say that until last week I had never heard the Sound of Silence. Until I decided to visit Crater Lake, tucked away in Southern Oregon and looking somewhat like a busted pimple on Mother Earth's visage. Crater Lake is a marvel of nature formed nearly 7000 years ago from the implosion of a volcano, Mt. Mazama. The brilliant blues and greens of the lake's waters are a feast for tired eyes. As I hiked down to the lake on an uncrowded weekday, I paused for a moment to take in the beauty of the scenery. And it was then that I heard it. The waters were almost still, and the birds had all flown away for the season. There was no breeze to rustle the leaves. There were no people around discussing their managers at work. For one long moment, a moment to be savored till eternal silence, there was only me and there was the lake. It was as though I had entered a parallel universe and reached a point in time 6000 years ago. When time was at a standstill and Mother Nature stood busy before the mirror preening herself. It was surreal and sublime -- a moment of absolute peace and quiet. Someone had accidentally pressed the "pause" button on the VCR of my life. I heard it.

It was the Sound of Silence.

Posted by beemboy at 02:33 AM | Comments (2)