As class ended, I dragged my boat over to the river. I decided to paddle upstream for a while so by the time I was tired I could flow with the current. The first 10 minutes or so is through the city of Milford, so I saw cars, people walking dogs, and even some horses being ridden. As the river moved away from the city, the stillness and silence overwhelmed me.
My teacher always says: "In stillness, we feel everything". This morning, that statement extended to all of my senses. It was almost like layers began to peel off, the deeper I went into the wilderness. First was my hearing. After a half hour or so, I began to realize that deafening silence actually wasn't silence at all. There were crickets, frogs, bird - an entire symphony of sounds! How did I miss that? How could I have not noticed these sounds from the start?
Next, a layer seemed to peel from my vision. What I saw moments earlier as stillness was actually a highly choreographed dance of birds and butterflies, tall grasses swaying, leaves being carried by the river. A dragonfly challenged me to a race, flying directly beside me for probably 3 full minutes before zipping off after deciding he had won. The logs I kept passing now held turtles sunning themselves. Were there turtles on the previous logs that I had just not noticed? How could I have not seen all of the activity in the day-to-day life of the river? How could I have thought of this as "stillness"?
My sense of touch heightened as well. I felt the breeze. I felt the spray of water from my paddle. The sun hitting my cheeks. Things I hadn't noticed before now consumed me. The smell of nature filled the air. Every sense felt alert and alive in a way it hadn't been when I had started my journey.
We go through our days so overstimulated that we have to dull down our senses just to exist. Traffic becomes background noise we no longer hear. We listen to music so loud it actually damages our eardrums, which forces us to listen to it louder. We hear kids playing and arguing, dogs barking, people talking. We watch TVs flashing from thistothattothis so quickly it would drive anyone actually giving it their full attention insane. We smell exhaust and pollution without even acknowledging it.
It's no wonder we are no longer in tune with ourselves and eachother. This society has forced us to dull down any sensitivity we have if we hope to survive. This kayak trip showed me how badly I needed this sensory detox. I highly recommend taking a morning yourself to just get away. Find a corner of the Earth you can unwind and let down your guard. Get back in tune with your surroundings. Be still, be silent. See what you can notice that you never have before.