I have been a lover of silence all of my life. Man-made noises have always seemed loud to me and at times harsh, abrasive, grating, and tedious. Nature’s sounds tend to have a sense of harmony, a softness, and a sweetness to them. Thunderstorms, I admit, get loud at times and create fear.
I discovered nature when I was big enough to walk. I have pictures of me studying leaves, twigs, flowers, insects, etc. I am carrying these gifts while I teeter across the front porch of my childhood home or navigate the front yard. When I grew older, I spent most of my childhood outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air.
I remember the sounds of children laughing and giggling as they built roadways in the dirt and sand, or as they caught crayfish and tadpoles in the Arkansas River. Groups of children just seemed to appear out of no where, meet in the middle of a dusty ball field, choose sides, and discuss the rules of play. When the ball game started, the crack of a bat would be thrilling, and the satisfaction of a good catch in a baseball mitt still thrills this 71-year-old woman. At night, children called, “Hide and Seek,” or “Annie, Annie Over.” Peals of laughter rang out while lightning bugs were put in jars. The night-time had a magic of its own when the stars came out and the full moon cast its light on the yards below. No T.V. sets or radios disturbed the quiet.
The katydids, the locusts, and the frogs that sang, would lull us to sleep at night. The cries of the whippoorwill and the Mourning Dove were heard when we were ready to enter the Land of Nod. In the morning, we awakened to the bird calls of the Robin, The Cardinal, and the Blue-jays. As we went out to play, we could hear the clothes whipping back and forth on the clothesline, birds squawking, squirrels chattering, trees cracking, the wind rushing, and creeks babbling. It all seemed so right, so comforting, and peaceful for the day to be filled with natural sounds and periods of deep silence. We could hear ourselves inside us, and communicate easily with God with no distractions of any kind.
I miss the silence that existed back then. It was lovely, a gift, and I was richer than any one could imagine.
Now, I wake up to the sound of cars back-firing, traffic going, loud sounds of construction, radios blaring, T.V.’s running, and computer key boards clacking. The sounds of children playing outside, is almost non-existent. I don’t hear the thud of baseballs, children laughing, or game rules being discussed. There is artificial noise every where. I have to work to find quiet places to go, without radios, cell phones, or other gadgets. I find that I crave solitude more than any other thing in the world. I have learned that my mind and soul need it as much as my physical body needs water.