As our car twisted through the mountains, a cool wind sifted through my hair. Proud pine trees leaned over the road as if they were listening for something.
I couldn’t place my finger on it, but there was something off. It felt like there was a fundamental difference in the air, a wilderness to it that I hadn’t experienced in a while.
As we parked our car at the empty base of a snowy hill, I finally identified what it was: the silence.
The absence of sound was almost deafening. There was no mechanical hum, no rumbling engines, no mindless chatter. The white noise that was the soundtrack of my everyday life was just gone.
And suddenly, it was just me and the crunching of my boots on fresh snow and the crisp echo of winter wind.
Alone. I was finally alone.
The overwhelming noise of my life couldn’t reach me. I had no cell phone service, no internet access and nowhere I had to be. I could just be alone with my thoughts in the soothing presence of the forest.
It occurred to me that oftentimes we get so caught up in the constant noises of our life that it becomes an inescapable riptide, pulling us out into an ocean of anxiety and drowning us in distress.
Surrounded in every direction by nothing but nature, life seemed so simple. There was something calm and peaceful about being miles away from anything familiar.
The silence of the mountains centered me and made me realize something important: that I never willfully unplugged from all the noises until I was forced to.
And honestly, it weighed on me.
Especially during a school year where your presence is constantly demanded through video calls, group chats and emails, disconnecting for a while seemed like a death sentence. There is an overbearing paranoia that comes with stepping away from the computer.
But it is so necessary.
Constant work and communication during the height of the digital age is not what people were meant for. Standing in the middle of the forest, with no trace of human presence in sight, that revelation thundered through my heart.
With a deep inhale, I let myself detach from the chaos of the past year. I gave myself, completely, to the moment. To the watchful trees, the sturdy mountains, the delicate snowflakes.
I became the quiet that I didn’t know I craved.
And, in the silence, I truly smiled.