I used to Walk in Silence

I used to Walk in Silence

On a beautiful mid-November day, I found the luxury of having time to take an afternoon walk in the woods. The sun was warm, the autumn leaves were a beautiful mix of vibrant colors. I put on my earbuds, selected my favorite play list and began the walk. Listening to the music I sang along in my head and picked up the pace.

Fifteen minutes later I remembered that the book I had ordered was downloaded on my phone. “I really need to listen to that to better prepare myself for work,” I thought. So, I clicked on my books app and selected the book and pressed play. It is a good book and the information is pertinent to help me learn to do a task in a more efficient way. At least that is what the promotion said the book would do for me. No doubt that is what it was doing as the author droned on into chapter three. Then it happened. My phone battery died. Here I am in this beautiful natural preserve with no music, no book, and probably a mile and a half from my car.

I was irritated with myself that I had not put the phone on the charger last night and I hadn’t brought along the extra charger. I took out the earbuds and put them in my pocket.

Walking just a little farther and not hearing any music or voice in my ears, something began to happen that I had not noticed previously. I heard a commotion above me and looked up in the trees just in time to see two birds that seemed to be having a conversation. I stopped for a minute and listened as if I listened closely enough, I might understand. I walked on and became aware of the contradiction of both the sounds and the silence in the woods.

My mind began to think about other things. Family, friends, things that I had not thought about, except for those thoughts one has right before falling asleep. Interestingly enough, I had an idea about a problem at work that had been puzzling me. I know that it could not really happen, but the colors of the leaves seemed more vibrant. I began to notice the various textures of the trees along the path. Observations I had not made when listening to my music or book.

Listening and learning while walking are worthy things to do and I will return to them frequently. The thing is, when I have the music or book in my head, my thoughts and the direction of my mind are often dictated by what I am listening to.

In what seemed like only a few minutes, I made the turn in the trail and could see the parking lot ahead of me. Immediately on getting into the car, I plugged my phone into the charger. Reflecting on the walk, I felt refreshed and somehow restored in body, mind, and spirit. Then the thought came to me, “I used to walk in silence.” Maybe I need to do that more often.

I invite you to try it…your thoughts may surprise you…or at least amuse you. Ken Bateman, Ed.D., LMFT-S