Yesterday I was the only human being on the mountain. Both my semi-near neighbors were away and that meant that for at least a mile in any direction I was the only one around. Oh, I suppose it’s possible that someone could have walked into the woods at the far edge of that mile without me knowing about it, but given the poor weather yesterday that is unlikely. And even if that event happened, the woods were pretty much as quiet as they are ever going to get. And it still wasn’t all that quiet around me.
Birds sang, the breeze rustled the leafy canopy, and occasionally a plane flew over or the sound of a loud and distant vehicle could be heard. So I can’t say that I felt unusually alone. The quietest I ever “heard” it here was right after a tornado came through (very!) near me about 10 years ago. Then, the leaves were completely still, and the birds were silent. That was an eerie and scary kind of quiet that I hope never to experience again.
Still, the quiet background sounds that are a part of my daily life are far quieter than are the typical daily experience for most people. To me, even a small town seems too loud. Several people holding a conversation can seem too loud. The volume in a movie theater makes my ears cringe.
Does the high level of background noise that most people live with every day have unknown consequences, I wonder? Does it contribute to high levels of stress or anxiety? I have no answer; I only know that what most people experience as “normal” levels of background noise sound way too loud to me, and I escape back to my mountain as soon as I am able.