About fifteen years ago, my father and I went to our family property to cut down a tree for the Christmas holiday. There were adventures along the way that required us to lug that tree out with some toil, but we got it in the end. As memorable as that adventure was, the thing that sticks out the most is when we were looking for the tree of choice and he asked me:
“Do you hear that?”
I listened and looked around, wondering what he was honing his sense of hearing towards.
“Hear what?” I asked. The only thing I could hear (besides my tinnitus) was a cold breeze, amplified further by the chilled stillness that accompanies winter.
His reply was simple; “Exactly!” he said.
I learned a lot from that moment. It had been a good amount of time since I stopped long enough to be away from the noise of people, cars, television, phone calls, notification chimes and the likes of all attention-grabbing tones that vie for our consciousness. I found the peace I wasn’t looking for when we went to find our tree. I left the noisy world and found a more natural atmosphere, conducive to my peace-seeking mind.
We returned later that day and it wasn’t long that I forgot about that experience. It was not until three years ago when I started snowshoeing, a newfound hobby, that I remembered that peace and tranquility. Both peace and tranquility should be quest items at the end of a trial as well as a long day.
I mentioned that I have a peace-seeking mind, however, I am not an even-keeled individual upstairs. The lack of calmness in my mind reflects in my personality. There are tests for A, B, C and D (probably up to Z) personalities and color tests too. I don’t subscribe to any, but all have great descriptions to point out the personalities of people everywhere. All those tests aside, I know that I am anything but calm in my mind and throughout my day. I want to see things get accomplished and done correctly. I don’t like idle time, nor do I enjoy idle talk at the water cooler; those drawn out conversations are like being mentally drawn and quartered. I grow tired of monotonous schedules and activities; I find that my brain begins to ask itself questions after too long. Don’t get me wrong, I can have fun, but let that happen when the day is done. I have had some conversations with therapists about this in the past which I will share another time; for now, let’s focus on those moments of peace and tranquility.
As I mentioned earlier, I picked up snowshoeing as a new hobby. The first time I set out, it was after a hard snowfall. One of my best friends, a “no matter what” individual, came along and we broke the snow. The featured image on this post is from that day. It was serene, quiet and soulfully needed; it calmed my mind and worked itself deeper into my subconscious. There was a great deal on my mind at that time. My second marriage was over, I was in rehab, I was only a few months sober and I had no goals other than keeping clean from substance abuse. Looking back, that truly was the only thing that was important: keeping clean from substance abuse.
Snowshoeing can be strenuous but is rewarding and once you’re able to catch your breath and listen (once your heart stops drumming in your ears) you may find what you need. I do, it seems, every time. That day was no different. It was quiet and the angst left me. I felt an inner-stability that I could not find in books, a blog, music, therapy or any other venue. Substance abuse had been a sensory robbing thief in my life. I let my addiction get the better of me and I was out of tune with every part of my character. But the train had wrecked and I was beginning to rebuild and tune my frequencies back into a proper harmonized song.
The silence acted as a noise reduction to the mind, it allowed me to think, remember and categorize my thoughts. I knew I needed this more often. Then I remembered what happened a few years back when I was cutting down a tree in similar silence.
I looked over at my friend and asked.
“Do you hear that?”
“What?” he replied.
“Exactly!” was my response.
Take time to meditate; let silence be the loudest thing you hear. The greatest sound dampener of thought, to me, is addiction. It had its time as a thief to my attention, concentration, awareness, and observations. Breaking free of that felt like my soul left a type of incarceration, never to be a repeat offender.
In sum, keep things in a forward motion with sobriety. Tap into moments of deep focus with concentration and meditative silence. Listen in silence, then listen beyond the silence.