Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wandering Into a Quieter Place

We live in a noisy society. Several years ago, I was visiting friends and looking for employment in the Halifax/Dartmouth region of Nova Scotia. One day, I boarded a bus into downtown Halifax and was taken with the large number of people who were using Personal Listening Devices… Walkmans, Discmans, MP-3 Players, over half the passengers were listening to some form of PLD. I was struck with the thought that this further served to isolate people from one another. Then as the bus began to move, I understood. The sounds of the engine, the rattling of the seats, a shriek from a child… I began to wish I had one too!

Of course, I’ve had a PLD since the early days of the Walkman. Back then, I listened to popular music of the time, The Police, The Doobie Brothers, Karla Bonoff, etc, but as time has progressed, my musical tastes have changed. Today, I listen to more “World” and “New Age” music as a way of escaping the banal drivel I hear on commercial radio.

But as I think back to that crowded bus, I think just how much I would have enjoyed one of the CDs that are available, with just some nature sounds. Many recordings exist today of the natural world. One can purchase CDs of the sounds of the ocean, rain, rivers, animal sounds such as loons, whales, or wolves. These are particularly enjoyable amid the urban clatter. It’s refreshing to be in a crowd of noisy school children and hear wolves howling in a windstorm… a sound I think I would prefer any day. There also exist CDs of nature with “mood” music mixed in. In fact, as I write this, I’m listening to one. Some of these are very effective in creating a meditative mood or relieving stress after a hectic day. The beauty of the PLD of course, is that it gives everyone the freedom to hear one’s own personal choice of music without forcing it upon others the way the “boom boxes” of an earlier time did.

However, the one thing that sounds best to me is real nature itself. I become who I think I was meant to be when I’m alone in the woods on a trail or perhaps canoeing on a quiet lake. I can hear only the sounds of the birds, insects and occasionally a fox or coyote, and my footsteps or the sound of my paddle gurgling in the water. I highly recommend that everyone get out and go camping or hiking in the wilderness. Include some swimming, canoeing or kayaking if possible. Get in touch with your quiet inner self. It will add years to your life.

~Still Wandering…

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