I found the quietest place on Earth. At least one of them.
During my solo trip to Ireland, I rented a castle for a night. Before tucking myself away in its stony walls, I decided to explore a field next to the castle for a few hours as it was still quite light outside. The field was wild and green – the Irish green that you imagine. Yellow daffodils, rich brown dirt, and different shades of moss invaded the greenery.
As I walked through the field, under the branches of craggly trees, I felt slightly uncomfortable. It was quiet – so quiet. There weren’t any planes overhead. Traffic noise was non-existent. Nobody spoke. The wind barely blew. The only noise was the crunch of leaves or twigs beneath my feet. It was a peaceful quiet that was comforting and unnerving all at the same time, as I had never been anywhere in the world in which there was no sound.
I returned to the world of Los Angeles five days later and was once again enveloped in the tunes of the city – motors, the hum of electricity, sirens, alarms, music, and chatter. Though I enjoyed the familiar sounds of the city, I missed the wild green field in Ireland. The lack of noise made me feel separate from space and time – I felt free and at peace, but most of all, relaxed.
I craved that noiseless space.
Three months later, I moved to Texas and that craving for silence among nature tugged at my soul. So I went hiking in the Wichita Mountains, once again, alone. Like Ireland, it was quiet and soothing. As I trudged up mountains, through fields, and hills, I felt at peace. I was able to think. Stress left my body. There was nothing beyond one step in front of the other as I searched for beautiful scenes to photograph.
A few months later, I settled in Dallas in a new apartment with a new career. I worked hard for months at my new job and searched tirelessly for friends. Months passed and I didn’t stop. My work stayed constant, my friends grew, and my social schedule was far from empty. Then April arrived this year and I felt the walls closing in on me.
Work wasn’t going so well, my finances had caught me off guard, and though I had many friends, I felt overwhelmed by the lack of down time for myself. I was drowning in emotional distress without realizing it. It finally hit me though, as it always does. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had ignored myself for too long. My body was asking for a break from it all, and I hadn’t listened.
So I decided to find a beautiful place, far from the noises of the city. A place that I could go alone and get lost among the trees. I found a nature reserve in Fort Worth and headed out early in the morning. I walked into the wilderness and trudged through fields, next to rivers, and around rocky ledges. I saw deer, snakes, and bison.
Rather than think about all of my troubles or woes, I just focused on each step, allowing the silence to consume me. And it helped – immensely.
Though many people admire my adventurous solo nature – to explore the world alone – I don’t know if they understand why I like traveling by myself. It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement on being a brave woman in the world, though if it inspires other women, I’m glad. More often than not, I like going into the world of nature alone because it allows me to check out on the world and any troubles in it. It helps me to reconnect with the Earth in a way that I’m unable to in the city. It lets me get away and cleanse my soul of anything holding me down. In basic terms, it’s therapy.
So if you’re ever feeling down and out or you feel the need to escape, do as I do, and walk into the wilderness alone. Take your shoes off and feel the grass and dirt beneath your toes. Close your eyes and lay among the grass and look up at the sky and just don’t think. And if you can’t stop thinking, just start walking. As step follows step and the silence permeates your soul, everything that’s been bothering you will melt away and you’ll emerge from the wilderness with a clearer mind ready to start anew.