This sounds a little reclusive and sad, but this activity for me is life-giving. The solitude is energising.
The image accompanying this post is a photo I took while my wife and I were traveling Iceland in 2009. After leaving Mývatn in the north of the country we were heading east towards our next stop, Egilsstaðir. Traveling as a duo (at that time pre-children!) and in the off-season, the scenery, lack of fellow tourists, barren and pristine landscape, and sheer isolation made this leg of the journey forever unforgettable.
At the point this photo was taken we pulled our 4WD up in the middle of the national highway (Route 1, the Ring Road which circles the country), turned the engine off and listened. I kept a journal of the trip and the following is my account of the experience as recalled that evening:
Saturday 4th April 2009
...the road to Egilsstaðir consisted largely of barren ice fields and mountains, great for photos and an insight into what the vast, uninhabited and hostile interior of Iceland must be like. At one time we stopped the car in the middle of nowhere, no other cars, rocks, or any life in sight. We turned off the engine, got out of the car and just listened. Nothing. Once you sheltered your ears to stop the sound of the breeze blowing past your ear, the only sound was the occasional drip of thawing snow and ice. Total isolation...
I will never forget that experience.
In the most regular of circumstances we are surrounded by sound. Our constant exposure to what we hear means that after a while we don't really listen to much of it at all. It becomes background noise. An unconscious reminder of being accompanied.
My Icelandic experience is rare.
While I love music and sound as I do, there is an energising peace in solitude. I hope to find it tomorrow.