Monday, 2 August 2010


Many people think that I carry on like this chap all my waking hours and then are surprised to discover that I relish silence and solitude - a lot. In fact, thinking about this post has reminded me that it would be good to book a weekend retreat soon. And at some point in the future I'm tempted to go on a ten day Vipassana Meditation Course which will really test how much I can tolerate being without unnecessary noise.

Of course, like most middle aged farts I like to listen to Radio 4 in the car. Or re-live Leonard's O2 performance with his 'Live in London' CD. However a lot of the time the radio is off, leaving me alone with my thoughts. And when I can find in, true quiet, for me, has a sweet quality that is more beautiful than any sound.

When you read this I'll be in France where I sometimes enjoy my first cup of tea of the morning outside the van. The is the fishing lake at Ouchamps, a small settlement in the Loire. Here, sitting silently on the end of a jetty I saw my first otter who swam towards me across the lake before disappearing into the reeds a few feet away. This was not the first time that I've had close encounters with animals when I've shut up. I had a staring competition with a weasel on Dartmoor once and then there was a close encounter with a marmot wearing a shaggy coat on my walk around Mount Ranier.

So I urge those of you who have the radio on all the time in the house or car and others who can't go anywhere without their MP3 players - try turning the sound off for a while. It can, at first, be scary to be noiseless and alone with yourself, but I've found that it can yield both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

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