The quieter holiday season has provided much needed time to catch up on home projects. One of the things I like to do when cleaning and organizing is listen to podcasts. I had several podcasts to catch up on recently, and this one stopped me in my tracks. Krista Tippett was interviewing Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist, on her On Being broadcast. Gordon Hempton has made his life's work out of tracking sound in some of the world's most wondrous places, capturing sounds of nature that our human ears rarely hear in the modern age. By bringing the art and practice of listening forward as an important feature of our human inheritance, Hempton encourages us to embrace the philosophies of life surrounding silence, and how silence deeply connects us to our existence:
"It is the presence of time, undisturbed. It can be felt within the chest. Silence nurtures our nature, our human nature, and lets us know who we are. Left with a more receptive mind and a more attuned ear, we become better listeners not only to nature but to each other. Silence can be carried like embers from a fire. Silence can be found, and silence can find you. Silence can be lost and also recovered. But silence cannot be imagined, although most people think so. To experience the soul-swelling wonder of silence, you must hear it."
While we are not often living and working in spaces that are completely silent, how might you listen more fully or clearly? What are some sounds of silence in your daily world that give contour and shape to your life? Do you have a favorite sound, or is there a sound that holds deep meaning for you?
Photography by Brianna Goodman