The Sound (and Places) of Silence

Today is quiet.

The ticking of the water heater echoes through the silent apartment. There’s a slight buzz of electricity emanating from the fridge. Outside, the cars speed by, their splashing through puddles creating a rhythmic whoosh…whoosh. The occasional seagull cries over the River Lee.

Even the sky is peacefully quiet, its soft grayness blanketing the city, the clouds stretching across the horizon. A light mist surrounded me as I walked to the grocery store this morning, the drizzle adding another layer of silent contemplativeness to the drowsy day.

I actually really love days like this. I like being able to think and listen to the world around me, an activity that’s hard to do during the busy weekdays. As much as I enjoy the company of others, it’s nice to have some time to unwind by myself, to regenerate after 3 weeks of being constantly surrounded by people, activities, trips, and due dates. I’m not saying the work here is exhausting (not yet, anyway), I’m just saying my friends and I have been very busy and it’s refreshing to have a slow, easy weekend to myself.

Take last week for example (Sept. 23-29). International students had to hand in their module registration forms, classes picked up and I discovered I actually can sit through an hour lecture without getting distracted. Erin and I watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” with the MedRen Society and later in the week hung out at a pancake party at one of the member’s houses, my archeology final project was due, and the Loyola group went on a weekend trip to Kerry.

The last, by the way, was really quite fun, even if I had a migraine when we got back to Cork Sunday evening. We left Friday afternoon with other U.S. visiting students and picked up some more from UL. Our first stop was at Crag Caves before continuing to our hotel in Cahersiveen where we had a wonderful dinner, heard about Gaelic football (it’s intense), and had a blast learning Ceili dancing.

The next day was jam packed. We did the Skellig Ring tour, which included learning the history of Valentia Island and the Ballinskellig region, climbing a mountain, strolling along the beach, visiting a chocolate factory, and having a commanding view of the landscape from the ramparts of Cahergal Stone Fort. We also had some free time to watch the hurling final rematch before dinner and a singing session, later followed by a trivia game in the hotel’s pub.

Ballinskellig Beach View from Quarry

View from Fort(I realize this is very list-y, but I’m trying to get to the super cool part)

Our final day in Kerry was probably the most beautiful. Even though it was gray and drizzly and foggy (much like today). Where did we go that could have me still thinking about it a week later, you ask? I’ll show you.

Forest

Glimpse of the Lake

I just…

Words can’t describe how amazing it was to stand on the cliff overlooking the valley. To see the land spread before me, the rolling hills climbing into the sky as the sun broke through the clouds at last, a single beam illuminating rocky green bluffs. Even in the valley, the woods surrounding the waterfall were serene. All around me trees reached up to the sky. Moss grew on every surface, creating a blanket of green that muffled the rushing water crashing from the rocks above. And the lake….jaw-dropping. Walking through the woods on a tiny, twisty path, I half expected to see elves or hobbits or some magical creature emerge from the trees. The lake’s edge was revealed after passing through brambly bushes and low tree-cover, the clear water mirroring the gray sky overhead.

It was so silent. So peaceful. I felt like I could truly meditate there. And I swear the clear air and sky cleared the cobwebs from my thoughts. I wish I could recreate that clarity, that inner peace found in the beauty of the mountains, waterfall, and lake.

Today is coming close to that, at least in the quiet reflection time available to me. My apartment might not have a beautiful view or songbirds to wake me in the morning, but at this moment, it provides a refuge from the hustle and bustle. And I’m happy to call it home.