Only once, early in the morning, as the sun was barely coming up over the mountains, I was lifted awake by the piercing call of an Elk, shouting his wishes for companionship. Ever since, the elk has been my favorite animal. There’s just something else about the way the it’s call echoes hauntingly through the trees.
Moments like that where your life is intertwined within the natural world lack severely in the urban landscape and it’s the elks call I crave to hear again. It’s a sign that the silence around me has emptied the air of polluted vibrations and the calls of the earth can be heard at last.
In the city, the noise pollution is so heavy and constant that there is little you can do to escape it.
I’ve seen and heard that some much prefer the city soundscape. They say the hubbub of the city is indicative of the life thriving among its skyscrapers and asphalt. The landscape is alive with the crawling of cars and trains and busses and bikes and people, all traveling from their homes with a destination in mind. This is contrasted against the silence of the forest as dead, unnerving and boring; something easy to forego for the city sounds.
I see it differently.
The silence of the forest is the sound of thought, of a quieter form of energy. It’s different from the din of the city because it’s sensory stimulation that gives us only what we need, nothing more nothing less. In the wilderness, our body resets to a gentle thrum of life. We eat, we walk, we see, we hear; all at a level of purity.
The city is gluttonous. The sounds are loud and pervading with signs telling you to buy more, be beautiful, and that to live richly is the sure way to happiness. The air is thick with the smell of food and gasoline and humanity’s greed.
As I sit in my room, with the window open I will list the sounds as I hear them for a moment.
A finch chirping
A car with a trashed muffler
The car pushing past my room and turning into my street followed closely by the next car behind it.
An airplane flying overhead.
A truck coming down the street with a bed full of rickety ladders.
If my memory serves me correctly, sitting at a camp or on the edge of a lake means I will hear
Wind through the forest
And… wait… that’s it. Yet although the city and outdoors have a certain level of constant noise, the difference is machine versus life. I understand that the city is this wild, frenetic mixing pot of people and sounds and ideas but whether or not we realize it the sound is deafening.
Humanity’s downfall will come when we reach a point where we can longer hear ourselves think. After all, thinking is the only thing we have. In the absence of claws and fangs and strength and speed, the only thing we have is human ingenuity.
Let’s not wait until it’s gone.
Let’s seek out the Elk’s call.