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Q – Quietude

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

Q – Quietude

This is the seventeenth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.

Back when I was in Graduate School, I lived just outside of Seattle, in Lake Stevens. It was a little town, kind of quirky, filled with people that chose to make the horrendous commute to get out of the scrabbling life of Seattle.  It was affordable, and had a slower pace.

On my days off, or when I had a little extra time, I would pack the dogs, Sheila, Sophie and Alex into the car. This was an interesting process because at the time I owned a classic Mercedes, I think it was a 1970 250D.  Sophie – who was an English Sheep Dog sat in the front seat, and the two Great Danes, Sheila and Alex sat in the back seat.  And I am sure you are probably wondering how that worked.  But the Mercedes was a tank, with plenty of room if everyone involved stuck to their seating assignments. The Great Danes sat in the back, with their butts on the seat and their front paws on the floor boards – they all had plenty of room.

We would drive north, along the winding roads out of Lake Stevens into the woods. The dogs, knowing our destination, stared intently out their respective windows. I am sure it was quite a sight to catch, because they really looked like humans sitting in the car, going for a drive.

About 15 miles outside of Lake Stevens, along the country roads was a place with a gravel road. Here is where we would go. I’d drive to the end of the gravel road, which just kind of stopped in the forest.  I don’t recall it going anywhere, it was just a random gravel road in the woods.  After stopping, I would open the car doors, letting the dogs out.

There was something special about this place. The gravel road ran parallel to a river.  I have no idea what river it was.  The water was so clear, and cold.  The sun shot spears of gold through the water onto the bed of the river. At several places along the river, small rapids formed as the water bubbled over the boulders and splashed its way along.  When I could actually extricate Sheila (the only Great Dane I ever met who enjoyed splashing around in water) and Sophie from the water we would continue our hike down the gravel road. The road was surrounded by a thick canopy of trees, where only dappled light made it through the dense foliage.  At the base of the forest large fronds of ferns stood high, covering the forest floor like a shag green carpet on steroids. Everything was so lush I always felt like I was absorbing the peacefulness and serenity of the surroundings into every cell of my being.

There was never any sounds, other than the scampering of twelve paws along the graveled road, the rushing sound of water, the musical splashing as it met with resistance from the boulders. It was so quiet, so peaceful and so exhilarating all at once. I felt tranquil here, at this place with the gravel road, and the river – me and the dogs, with the tank of a Mercedes parked at the end of a gravel road that went nowhere.

I tell you all this, because in your lives you need to find quietude. There needs to be a place, where you can get away from the noise, the constant barrage of information, away from the cell phones and the televisions, the gaming consoles and all the other stuff that adds extraneous stress to your life.  You need to find a place where you can decompress, really settle into your mind and your thoughts and breathe.  You will know when you have arrived at that place because your skin will tingle, you will be able to take deeper breaths and you will hear the sounds of nature, the birds, the insects, the trickling of water and the rustle of the leaves in the trees.  This will be the place you find quietude.

Quietude – a state of stillness, calmness, and quiet in a person or place


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