Thoughts on Lockdown: The Sweet Sound of Silence

A note: Starting April 6 and moving into the foreseeable future, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on lockdown — along with a random photo from more carefree days. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

arenal volcano costa rica

Amid this pandemic’s doom and gloom, one of the things I’ve most enjoyed reading is some of the positive environmental news. While humans lock themselves away, wildlife is running, well … wild.

There are pumas in Santiago. Silka deer in Japan and wild turkeys in Oakland. Monkeys throughout Thailand. Even in national parks, wildlife are coming out of hiding now that people aren’t around.

Of course, humans brought a lot of this on. Despite those “do not feed” signs tacked up in parks and public spaces all over the world, people went ahead and fed wild animals anyway. (My grandmother was so guilty of this.) But beyond animals seeking out grub in new corners of deserted cities, they’re finally just reclaiming their space.

I’ve always been bothered by the fact that humans so brazenly land grab, stomping a footprint wherever they want just because they can. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

I, for one, am happy to see that animals can finally, briefly reclaim some of the space we took from them. I’m also concerned what will happen to this wildlife when humans once again venture outdoors, crowd the streets, and pile into the parks. Hopefully this displacement can be peaceful, but I digress …

With the lack of human movement, one of the things I’m most appreciative of is stillness.

On a recent walk into our neighborhood, Cory and I noticed how much we could hear. Birds chirped in the trees. Flowering branches rustled in the wind. We could hear kittens meowing in the yard of one of the houses we walk past.

Everything felt so … still. Nature is subtle, quiet. I don’t know about you, but I don’t realize how much noise is in my life until it’s gone.

Our apartment sits in a flight path, and all day every day, we’re inundated with airplanes taking off and landing. In early March, the frequency slowed significantly. Then it stopped altogether. I noticed this … but only in the back of my mind. It wasn’t until a medical helicopter flew overhead about a week ago that I actually took note beyond a fleeting thought how quiet it is. And, checking in with myself, I realized the quiet that’s now part of my life is exceptionally peaceful.

Our world is a very noisy place: Airplanes. Motorcycles. Car horns. People talking loudly. Crowds cheering. Concerts. Construction equipment.

I feel like, as people, we’ve just accepted this because this is life. It is what it is. Like metaphorical frogs in boiling water, we don’t even realize how loud it’s gotten. But it’s such a treat when that noise is gone.

When you get a chance, I encourage you to open your window or step outside. Close your eyes.

Listen. Listen to the birds, to the wind, to footsteps, to the low murmur of voices. Soak in that sweet sound of silence.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

About this photo:

I’ve often said that my dad inspired my sense of wanderlust with all those summer road trips we took when I was a kid. Finally, as an adult, I had the chance to return the favor when I suggested we take a trip somewhere outside the U.S. Within days, he and I had booked flights to Costa Rica. We didn’t do much planning; looking back, I think we maybe should have done a bit more. Regardless, the day we arrived at the foot of Arenal Volcano, the weather and views were spectacular. We didn’t spend much time here, and some day I’d like to go back.

Read more Thoughts on Lockdown:

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