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The Sweetness of Silence

June 10, 2012

Occasionally, I find myself longing for a return to the urban life.

Raised on the fringe of a small Oregon town, I knew of little outside the whisper of winds through the trees and the soft tickle of new grass under bare feet. We marked seasons not just by months in a calendar, but also by the ever-changing angle of light across the sky and the subtle transitions of the sounds that filled our world. The crackle of trees and soil baking under the sun in the summer would slowly give way to the rustle of leaves in the fall. The rustle would eventually grow silent under the relentless pounding of rain that replenished the land in the winter.

Despite being a child of the country, I didn’t really understand or appreciate the subtlety of nature. I had a mission. I wanted to find my calling. My career.

The pursuit would eventually take me out of the state and land me in Los Angeles and San Diego and San Francisco, with numerous travels to New York and Chicago and Washington, D.C. The California cities were so close to where I grew up, and yet just as foreign as if they were half a world away. I was definitely out of place in the concrete paths and steel mountains that replaced the quiet forests and burbling springs I called home.

While I always knew I would eventually return to Oregon, I didn’t realize that I would continue to feel the occasional pull of the bright lights and fast pace of the city.

Thankfully, my job requires me to travel to New York on a regular basis, so I get my fill of the metropolitan lifestyle. The proverbial hustle and bustle. But every time I return to Oregon, I am struck by how — the moment I step off the plane — I am enveloped by silence.

It’s probably not truly silent, but in comparison to New York, it feels devoid of sound.

It’s in these times I understand the beauty that silence brings to my life. In the garden, I can once again appreciate the whisper of winds through the leaves. While walking the dog, I can treasure the symphony of crickets in the distance. And in the still of the night, I can enjoy the gentle, rumbling purr of my contented cat as she settles on top of me, knowing that my return home makes all right in her world again.

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