PEACE AND QUIET! WHERE ART THOU NOW?


EVER HEAR A BIRD FLY ?

I live in a large urban area where “peace and quiet” is rare indeed. In the wee hours of the morning one can hear the sounds of  aircraft and distant automobiles and such. Even if your place is built to muffle and absorb sound, you will not be entirely free of sound. Small wonder that most people never experience the sensation of a very low sound environment. However, some sounds are pleasant and re-assuring; the sound of my sleeping wife next to me is one such. Some sounds are very obnoxious to most people. I have in mind the window-rattling sounds produced by high wattage systems in some automobiles. These systems are designed to annoy people and in that, they certainly do. We are trapped in a  swamp of urban sound.

I sometimes went by myself to the high mountains East of the California Owens Valley seeking to escape the chaos and sound of urban life. I wanted some  “peace and quiet” to allow me to think about my life experiences and the meaning they held for me. These trips always had the desired effect. I always returned feeling mentally rested and ready for the next round. One such trip, early in my mountaineering career, made a lasting impression on me.

This particular trip started the customary way. I drove to the Owens Valley town of Lone Pine on a Friday evening and from there  continued up to the trail-head at Whitney Portal. I followed my routine of finding a place to park my car for the weekend  and then sleep til early morning.  Next morning , after my morning rituals, I started up the trail which takes one to the Meysan Lakes area. This route is not particularly difficult or strenuous  and I made camp by noon. After a meal and a brief rest, I and my daypack left camp to explore the area above the Meysan Lakes. This is a pleasant experience to savored  slowly and with great attention to your surroundings. ( Even as I write  this, I can feel the good vibes from these experiences.)  After a time had passed, I arrived at a small, tree rimmed lake where I made myself comfortable. Chaos? Not here certainly. Chamberlain had it right after all:”Peace in our time”.

As I sat beside the lake, the stillness began to melt away the urban-caused soreness of my brain ,much like aspirin does for sore muscles. I gradually tuned in to my surroundings. I started to hear soft sounds. My eyes detected small birds flying about, feeding on insects no doubt. As I sat there watching the birds, I realized that the sounds I was hearing were the sounds of the birds flying about. That thumping  noise I was hearing was the sound of my beating heart! This is basic living at it’s best.

I have put the greater part of my life behind me and this experience was long ago. However, it made such a lasting impression on me that even now I am able to recall its memory to mitigate the corrosive effects of urban life. I believe I’ll just lean back in my chair and go visit my lake. I will return soon. See ya!

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