Sara Larson: The Sounds of Silence in Dark Canyon

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The ability to intently listen is unfortunately far too extraordinary these days. We are consumed by screens and the scramble of our daily lives. When was the last time you sat in a quiet place and simply closed your eyes and listened to your surroundings?

Mine was in Dark Canyon. Throughout this last section, I focused on listening to the world around me, to the canyon walls, to the Ponderosas, to the Stellar’s Jays, to the steady flowing stream. The outcome was a sense of connectivity to the place I was, sitting on a boulder wedged between a narrow that created a waterfall so the loudest sound I heard was the cascade of water into the pool below, or on a simple yet stunning slope lined with Junipers and Pinyons. Whenever there was silence, I would close my eyes and quietly listen. Here is what I heard:

The pine cones fall from the Ponderosas and bounce from branch to branch as they land with a small “crack” to the ground. I imagine a xylophone and the cones are the mallets, hitting each branch creating a new sound as they leap from their tree top home.

A lone late afternoon cricket chirping somewhere in the trees, the wind is strong and I hear a storm rolling in. The tree-lined cliffs catch the wind amongst them and whirl it through the Ponderosas. I imagine the mountains with mouths sucking in the breeze and forcefully blowing it out again. As the wind goes through the trees, the chorus of leaves create a nice harmony to the mountain melody. I hear loose branches creak and the grasses rustle at my feet. Mother Nature is singing.

The silence in Dark canyon is so loud. I hear a countless number of bird songs, the high pitched rattle of the American Dipper is one I have become quite fond of. I hear the pesky flies buzzing around my head and do my best to ignore them. I sit atop my boulder above the delicate waterfall and the sound of flowing water soothes me. I listen as the water splashes into the pool below, constant and steady. A sense of tranquility envelops me.

The sounds one hears while sitting in silence are peaceful and harmonious, speaking would only break the serenity.

On our last night, we all sat around the campfire in silence, listening to it crackle and then Josh recited a poem written by John Trudell. It was the perfect summary to my listening experience throughout Dark Canyon. I encourage everyone to think of the last time you sat in silence and if you cannot recall that moment, then the time has come to stop what you’re doing, go outside and listen to the sounds of silence.

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