In Search of Silence

Published in the August 2007 Issue December 2018 Feature Lindee Anderson

I can’t honestly say that I recall ever experiencing complete silence—a literal lack of sound outside of the pumping of my own cardiovascular system. Actually, I can’t even remember when things were still enough to hear my heartbeat in recent years. Are there places where it even exists or is it just the holy grail of sensory perception? Where there is energy, you’ve got sound. Where there is life—sound.

Not that I’m trying to give sound a bad rap, mind you. Few things are more majestic than the patter of rain on a lake during the first waking hour or the rhythmic rocking of waves against an aluminum hull. However, there is something to be said for the magnitude of silence, too. If for only an occasional five minutes my mind can be still and my ears asleep, I can release more tension and stress than in an entire weekend of play. It is regenerative. It is golden.

On a recent visit to one of our nation’s most popular houseboating hubs, I came about as close to experiencing silence as I can ever remember. Thanks to Steve Ward, Director of public relations at the Wahweap Marina, I felt some of that regenerative golden energy as I got a backstage tour of the secrets that Lake Powell offers. Few know the lake better—Ward has been discovering her for some 30 years. The lake rests partially on the Navajo Indian Reservation. That may be where the tradition of story telling takes shape in this place. There is a reverence in nature that can only be experienced first-hand. Even now, back in the office, I can’t forget how I fed my worries to the lake and left them to sink deep in the waters of that canyon.

Cathedral Canyon is a twisting, narrow chasm of great sandstone and secrets. We motored in as far as we could—until our runabout was wedged between the two walls in front of us. I found silence in the shelter of that canyon and wondered what lie there beneath the water. Without the engine running and no wind to speak of, no birds, no movement in the dark water… everything fell silent for a moment. Now I find myself changed somehow—looking for it each day. 

Silent retreats are popping up all over as we try to get in tune with our inner psyche. It’s not surprising, really. Meditation is the new trend. Who knew that we only had to look so far as our water’s edge to find the real thing? Even a couple of decades ago, the airwaves weren’t buzzing with cell phone calls and satellite reception like today. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to come off as sanctimonious. Hey, I’m as guilty as the next guy. I don’t go anywhere without my cell phone. I habitually watch my favorite morning newscast as I start the day and feel most productive in the constant chatter of interviews and research, which generally feeds the time that isn’t filled with the clicking of my keyboard. But, every once in awhile if I can silence all that racket, it is like hitting the reset button on my soul. Try it some time. You’ll see.

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