Contemplating Silence

When it gets down to brass tacks, I’m a very laid-back lone wolf. I like to spend winter evenings in my old, Canadian manufactured, glider-rocker with my feet propped up on its coordinated glider-ottoman. I might have a philosophical book in my hands. Or simply cradled in the chair with the lights turned off and the stereo playing electronic ambient music at low volume.

My favorite time is spent in that same darkened room with the stereo switched off. When I feel indulgent, I microwave a sock-shaped, rice hull filled, heat therapy body warmer. I curve and sandwich the warmer between the chair back and my own back. My eyes gently close shut. I soon find myself in a state of semi-meditation. While in this state of mind, I allow the silence to engulf me. Now you know one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

“In Kazakhstan, you would drive five hours outside the city to where roads sort of stop being roads, and it was just in the mountains and deathly quiet. And you could only really hear the clumping of the horses, and it was a sort of a beautiful silence. Like it enveloped you.”–film actor, Benedict Wong

There are places in the North American Great Plains where the silence is palpable. One of my favorite outdoor refuges is Cherry County–Nebraska’s largest county by land area. I usually book a motel room in Valentine–the county seat–then drive south of town along a primitive graveled road in the midst of the flat, dry, grass-covered prairie.

During the cold months, after finding a suitable place to park the car, I sit on the car’s hood. For several minutes, the switched off engine begins to cool down. The process of cooling causes the engine block to click like the movement of an antique grandfather clock. Eventually, the clicking sound halts and the Cherry County silence is complete. My eyes notice a distracting dot of light on the western horizon–the yard light of a far-away ranch. Then I turn my attention to the moonless sky.

Pondering the countless galaxies and stars causes the mind to become as silent as the surrounding ranchland. I feel peacefully unified with the totality of the Universe.

Perhaps an hour or so later, the sacred silence is disturbed by the barely audible thunder of a jet aircraft flying at maybe 40,000 feet above me. I squint at the sky’s zenith and discover the plane’s strobe light. It’s apparent that the craft is travelling east. Some minutes later, the gentle thunder fades while the flashing light eventually disappears behind a dark cloud.

The silence returns, but now it feels more cold and dangerous. It’s time to get back inside the ol’ Camry for the short journey to Valentine. The ignition switch clacks and the starter motor whirrs the engine to life. Simultaneously, the heater fan hushes cold air out of the ventilation and defroster ducts from the dashboard.

After another minute of savoring the dark outdoors from the inside comfort of the car, I reluctantly snap on the headlights. I clomp the transmission shifter into first gear, then softly release the clutch. I’m in no hurry to get to town, so I drive slowly. The purring of the engine is barely audible above the crunching from the tires rolling across gravel.

Too soon, I’m back in Valentine then park at the mom and pop motel. Apparently I am the only guest for the night because there are no vehicles on the lot but my own. Once inside the room, I’m again greeted by silence. I feel thankful for the quiet, homey simplicity of the vintage motel room. Life is good.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes late 19th/early 20th century French composer, Claude Debussy. “Music is the silence between the notes.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Meanderings, philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Contemplating Silence

  1. Pingback: ReBlogging ‘Contemplating Silence’ – Link Below | Relationship Insights by Yernasia Quorelios

  2. bloom|time says:

    This is really beautiful. It transported me.

  3. The dark skies and unobstructed views around Valentine would seem to add to the silence.

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