Quiet Moments: Travel and Silence

Scotland Glencoe road

One of the aspects of travel that I always look for — a through line, if you will — is silence.

Isn’t one of the purposes of traveling to take in as much as you can, to learn all you are able to, to immerse yourself in experiences, sights, sounds, flavors, to meet people? None of that sounds very quiet.

If you follow my writing you’ll also know that music is a big part of who I am as well as what I write about. Much of my travel has to to with learning about and listening to music. So what does silence have to do with this? What, in fact, does silence have to do with travel at all?
fireplace Ireland

Travel is about experiences of many sorts, that’s true. For me, being aware of and seeking out moments of silence — even in places which are not themselves especially quiet — allows me to frame those things in ways that open doors to understanding, to carrying ideas forward, to learning the lessons I am meant to from the varied experiences which arise in traveling.

Does that sound really out there to you? Perhaps silence isn’t your through line. I’ll bet, though, that you have one: a preferred or instinctual way of understanding and reflecting on the world, a circumstance with which you like to begin experiencing travel or something you always include, a way of understanding your life and the world that travel may in fact shine a light on.

Scotland city sunrise

I’ve a friend who looks for the colors in fabrics as she travels. Another always seeks out the work of local craft artists, often going far out of her way to find and speak to people who make work that comes from and embodies the places she visits. I know someone who always wants to understand what the lives of young children are or were like in places he goes to. Another meets places through their street food. Then there’s the man who has to seek out an Irish pub wherever he goes — in places as far from Ireland as Japan and Hawaii.

Silence chose and continues to choose me as a regular traveling companion. It makes space, if you will, which helps me frame and reflect on and understand what is happening and what I am learning and what I will choose to remember.

Mounres in sunlight and snow

It is just as possible to hear silence in the midst of a busy city as it is in remote countryside. Just as useful, too. Part of that has do do with the idea of interior silence found in spiritual tradition, I suspect, and part of it has to do with being a musician. However that comes about, it involves finding ways of being present and gaining perspective as well.

I have introduced you to some of the places I have listened for and found silence and quiet in other stories, including these:

Donegal: Wildflowers and a Wall
Glasgow City Center: Buchanan Street

Ireland: The Best Thing to Do
Quiet Moments: Glasgow School of Art
Ireland in Three Churches

There are times when visual silence is part of things as well, as I expect the photographs I share with you here may suggest.

Music and silence may seem an odd combination. For me, both enrich each other, and my experience of travel.

Ireland night street louth

What helps focus and center your experiences of travel? If you have yet to try building in and being aware of moments of silence, I recommend the practice to you.

Photographs of Glencoe, Scotland, fire on the hearth in Louth, Ireland, winter sunrise over Renfrew Street in Glasgow, Scotland, Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland in sunshine and snow, and night street in Louth, Ireland by Kerry Dexter. Thank you for respecting copyright.

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