Tuesday, December 29, 2015

IN DEFENSE OF SILENCE


Standing on the peak of Mount Nemrut near Tatvan looking down on the clear waters of the magnificent crater lake is a unique experience. There is no clearer water anywhere in the world; the surrounding cliffs are mirrored in the water in all their glory and the silence is absolute. There is no sound at all, no chocolate wrapper, no cigarette butts, no weekend revelers, in short, no sign of civilization. It is just the pure majesty of Mount Nemrut and man. Places like this thankfully still exist but they are rapidly being gobbled up by encroaching urban expansion and more is the pity.

The picture painted above may seem idyllic to some but to many others it will seem like purgatory because for one thing, there is no cell reception or Wi-Fi. Anyone who ventures out into nature in all its glory will have to cut the umbilical cord and discard their gadgets; accoutrements that, in the modern age, seem as necessary as the air we breathe. They will not be able to nip to the shops for anything; there are no discotheques, no loud music, nothing; nothing that is except the magnificent silence, the peace, the quiet and the solitude.

To some this is bliss and they will go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of it: the Polar circle and the Northern lights, the Antarctic, the great outback, the Rockies, The Andes and many more places besides. They go in search of places where stimulation of the kind we have grown to “love” in the modern world does not exist. They wish to cut out the sounds, the lights and all urban chatter. They crave the peace and quiet provided by solitude; they delight in turning in on themselves and enjoying their own “stimulation” for there is a rich world in our minds if we only stop to look and listen. By doing so, they build their inner strength and revel in a state of mental serenity which is hard to rival.

Unfortunately, most people in the modern world have lost the ability to zone out of the urban jungle as we know it and enjoy the inner world made possible by the lack of audio and visual distractions. The trouble is that people have grown up with the cacophony of urban stimulation and cannot imagine life without it. Never having learnt to enjoy an atmosphere where there is far less stimulation and never having enjoyed the silence, the accompanying stream of consciousness and reverie , they feel lost. More is the pity because the restorative power of absolute silence and the opportunity for reflection and meditation such an experience offers also evades them.


A lot of us have suffered a great loss without being aware of it and are very much the poorer for it. Nature provides the cure for the stresses and strains of life if only we are able to silence the world and feel it. The many so called “primitive” peoples have it right; the urban zoo we have created for ourselves with all its ugly sounds, flashes of light and endless chatter is destroying our souls and we, knowing no better, are “loving” it.

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