On this morning of the full moon, I am listening to the gentle tinkling of rain on my roof. The air around me vibrates with the contented purr of my cat. In the distance, a stellar’s jay screeches.
Earlier this year, I listened to a conversation with acoustic biologist, Gordon Hempton. Hempton records natural soundscapes, immortalizing the “poetics of space” found in wild places.
Hearing, Hempton reminds us, is so important to the higher vertabrate species, that not once in the fossil record have we found evidence that a species evolved earlids. We are able to therefore continuously monitor our environment, even as we sleep. This helps explain why quiet places are inherently calming, they allow us discern all the information we need to build a sense of security.
Hempton works to preserve the last of the Earth’s quiet places against the encroaching noise pollution of modern life. Beyond their innate value, he defends quiet places as ‘the think tank of the soul’, where we are able to discern what is essential.
Quiet is not the absence of sound, it is the absence of noise. Quiet allows us to tune into the delicate pulsing air waves that we transform into sound and meaning. It is a primal connection to place, and a felt sense of the rhythms of our world.
In a recent piece for Emergence Magazine, David Haskell explores these rhythms of our planet over the course of its evolutionary history. From the early sounds of air, water and stone, to the explosion of songs that now characterize terrestrial life, Haskell takes us on an auditory journey of creation.
It reminds me to carve time out for the simple pleasure of listening, and I hope it inspires you to do the same.
You can find David Haskell’s audio story here: https://emergencemagazine.org/audio-story/when-the-earth-started-to-sing/
You can find Gordon Hempton’s conversation with Krista Tippett here: https://onbeing.org/programs/gordon-hempton-silence-and-the-presence-of-everything/#transcript
Invitation of the Day
Find a quiet place outside to sit. Tune into the sounds around you. What is the most distant sound you hear? What is the quietest? Notice which sounds bring pleasure and which bring resistance.