Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exploring the Landscape through the Six Senses - Hearing

Those who know do not speak.
Those who speak do not know.
- Lao Tzu

   Silence is the most profound form of hearing.  I call this type of hearing, visual listening.  It is the beginning of my encounter with the landscape whenever I am alone and at ease.

   Silence is not the absence of noise but a form of interior listening.  It is not done with an empty and unresponsive mind.  It is an interactive experience.

   Every place has it's own unique sounds...or lack thereof.  When my Boston cousins visit my little farmhouse in Maine two of the things they comment on is the complete darkness at night (no street lights or nearby city light pollution) and the quiet.  It is a bit eery to them who are use to the constant and pervading noise of urban locations.

Listen for the music of the landscape.

   Listening for the sounds of the landscape is part of the experience of being there.  Like the time I was sitting alone on the Burren in Western Ireland and put my ear to the rock.  You could hear the underground rush of a rain swelled river. (Almost all of the Burren's water is underground.)  It is the life blood of the place and I felt by hearing that I had experienced a vital part of the location.

   I love this Lao Tzu quote.  If you truly know the spirit of the landscape, there is no need for speech.  In a way, there is no need for a photograph.  You carry it inside and it is there for you whenever you need it.

   That is how I feel about certain places in Ireland.  I know that landscape in a much more intimate embrace than any other place I've ever been. It feels like an old and much loved sweater that has stretched to fit only you.  The first morning I awaken in Ireland and open the door, it is like going to visit a cherished friend and I immediately apologize for staying away so long.

   Do you have a place like that?  A place where no words are needed and you melt into a silent encounter?  If you do not, try to make this the year you find your heart's home.

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