"Not all those who wander are lost"
-J.R.R. Tolkien from the poem "All That is Gold Does Not Glitter"
2015 was a year of pain in so many ways. I’ve learned that everyone deals with pain in his or her own way. I’ve always used exercise to deal with tough times. I took 4-mile jog hours after finding out my Mom had passed away. That’s just me. Exercise has always been the way I’ve gotten through something tough. I like to get lost in movement and try to forget. It’s hard to think about bad things when you’re trying to catch your breath after a sprint.
Now during exercise, I enjoy listening to my favorite jams or an interesting podcast. But something new happened for me in 2015. I learned the value of quiet. Running, lifting, swimming, walking all in quiet. Now we can’t control the volume of the world around us, but we can keep the noise out of our own head. So from time to time, I started walking without headphones or lifting weights without the radio on. Sometimes I would even begin to wander in quiet. I might trek across a neighborhood for some urban wandering or walk through the woods with no idea where I’m going. Just me and my scattered brain.
You know at first I was actually afraid. I was afraid I’d get bored with myself. I thought I might run out of stuff to think about. What's up with that? I was even afraid I might stumble upon too tough of a topic to deal with. It seemed that I had not only been using noise to keep me entertained but to also keep from thinking too deeply for fear of what I might find.
So have I discovered any value from wandering in quiet? Yes and no. Some days I honestly don’t like it. The scenery isn’t appealing, I can’t focus, or I just start worrying about money for the next hour. On those days I could use the distraction found inside my headphones. But some days it’s like medicine for the soul. I reflect on good times, think up sweet business ideas, or even have some a couple inspiring thoughts. Some days, if no one is around, I’ll pray out loud. Not those deep resonating desperate prayers for help. It’s more like a comfortable conversation with God. And I don’t think those conversations or inspirations would be able to find their way out if I’m lost in my headphones.
I even discovered a new favorite sound…the crunch of gravel under my feet. I would have never heard that with my headphones on. It can be very faint and easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. I don’t know why, but I love that sound. It’s calming. It sounds just like bowl of crunchy morning cereal, and it just makes me feel good. So what’s the point here? Nothing really, I just think this needs to be shared.
Wandering in quiet has been nice for me. Maybe it’ll be something nice for you or your whole family to try out some time soon.