I’ve been doing a lot of travelling and as a result reflecting lately. The following reads have come at a good time especially when I have been wrapping myself up with some much needed silence. My usual go to when I travel is to pack an iPod to keep my grounded. I’ve noticed since I have been home I’ve been doing a lot of reading, cooking without the stimulus of music in the background. There’s been a shift of late and it feels good.
The following books have made a mark on my reflection time.
‘Silence In the Age of Noise’ By Erling Kagge
What is silence?
Where can it be found?
Why is it now more important than ever?
In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, becoming the first person to reach the South Pole alone, accompanied only by a radio whose batteries he had removed before setting out. In this book. An astonishing and transformative meditation, Kagge explores the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create. By recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, Kagge shows us why silence is essential to sanity and happiness—and how it can open doors to wonder and gratitude.
An easy read with a lot of room for quiet reflection. I spend most mornings in my condo drinking tea and listening to the buses and cars below scurry by. This is a new thing for me, I usually have music playing during my mornings and as a result have missed the wonderful nuances of silence. It’s only in the last few years when I have been dealing with grief that I keep my home a silent space.
In ‘Silence In the Age of Noise’, I enjoyed the mention of Bronx and Harlem women going to work early in the morning before commencing their department store jobs so they could find a nook to read in silence. A perfect visual image for me to reflect upon as I enter a busy time this Fall. Finding time in the morning to read for leisure! The cultural component of how people choose to use silence in Iceland and Japan was of interest. I noticed how the Japanese use long pauses when in discussion whilst I was on holiday and not feeling the need to fill silences with unnecessary chatter. The mention of Jesus and Buddha finding their inner silence (Jesus in the wilderness and Buddha in the mountains and rivers) so they could hear and listen with a silent heart while also waiting with an open mind was awe inspiring. I have found a similar space in nature of late. I find that when I travel I like to dwell on art in museums and galleries more with an open mind then when I am in work mode and filled with distractions. Silence is truly a luxury and can be incorporated well beyond just ‘holiday mode’. Read this book!
‘Original Highways’ By Roy MacGregor
Expanding on his landmark Globe and Mail series in which he documented his travels down 16 of Canada’s great rivers, Roy MacGregor tells the story of our country through the stories of its original highways, and how they sustain our spirit, identity and economy–past, present and future.
No country is more blessed with fresh water than Canada. From the mouth of the Fraser River in BC, to the Bow in Alberta, the Red in Manitoba, the Gatineau, the Saint John and the most historic of all Canada’s rivers, the St. Lawrence, our beloved chronicler of Canadian life, Roy MacGregor, has paddled, sailed and traversed their lengths, learned their stories and secrets, and the tales of centuries lived on their rapids and riverbanks. He raises lost tales, like that of the Great Tax Revolt of the Gatineau River, and reconsiders histories like that of the Irish would-be settlers who died on Grosse Ile and the incredible resilience of settlers in the Red River Valley. Along the Grand, the Ottawa and others, he meets the successful conservationists behind the resuscitation of polluted wetlands, including even Toronto’s Don, the most abused river in Canada (where he witnesses families of mink, returned to play on its banks). Long before our national railroad was built, our rivers held Canada together; in these sixteen portraits, filled with yesterday’s adventures and tomorrow’s promise, MacGregor weaves together a story of Canada and its ongoing relationship with its most precious resource.
A wonderful book to push your ‘silence’ barometer a little further. A book that could be quite heavy as you start flipping through its early pages so silence to stay focused could be necessity. Be patient with this one. MacGregor paints a wonderful portrait off the fabric of what has stitched our country, Canada, together in its inception. Rivers being the main blood line that not only brought over our first settlers but the bricks and mortar of what built Canada into the country that it is today. I would have appreciated more a nod to our First Nations people and how their establishment helped in curating the mapping of early Canada. Lean into the silence as you read ‘Original Highways’. It is a nice change up of a read and lens into Canadian history and geography.