Shut The Hell Up Outside, Please!

Enjoy the silence.

Shut The Hell Up Outside, Please!
Escalante, Utah, (c) Author

I got out of the car and walked up to the edge. Below me stretched hundreds of square miles of rock and desert. I felt a warm wind roll over my head as it blew to the east. Not a single sound was heard except for the wind. I felt happiness and peace for the first time in a long while.

I enjoyed the silence (h/t Depeche Mode).

My family and I took a road trip through the desert southwest this past summer. Yes, we drove but we rented an eco-friendly car. Gas prices were insane over the summer and we are all for lowering our carbon footprints, so we ditched the big SUV for a compact one that got 35+ miles to the gallon.

I took my partner and kids on the same route I made back in 1999, back when the National Parks and campsites weren’t loved to death yet. It was back when people picked up trash and packed it out. It was when the campsites were mostly empty.

Something had changed in the past twenty years. I noticed it when we got to the Grand Canyon. There was trash floating around, stuck in the ground cacti, and this constant chatter of people.

Too much noise for my liking.


We were hiking up a trail in Capitol Reef when I heard music. At first, I thought I was hallucinating from sweating out too many electrolytes, but it was real. The songs got louder and louder until I ran into a hiker.

This guy was hiking with a clip-on portable Bluetooth speaker, blaring the latest music hits across the trail and into the canyon. I wanted to throw him off the trail into the canyon and throttle him.

Instead, we let him pass and kept heading down the trail. I calmed down after a mile.


I wonder if it’s my age catching up with me. I used to play in a loud punk rock band in New York City. I used to yawp from the rooftops and stay out till the wee hours of the morning.

Now?

I like my quiet. I only want to hear the sounds of nature.

I question myself a lot these days, so I don’t come across as a raging hypocrite. When did I become such an old stick in the mud? The music blaring hiker was outside, in the wilderness, enjoying it with a bit of music. Don’t I listen to music when I’m out and about in public? Of course, I do!

But I wear headphones.

I believe the only things that you should hear in the wilderness are the sounds of nature and the occasional human yawp!

You know a yawp when you hear it, it’s when a human has overcome some obstacle in nature or climbed something big. We can’t help but feel exalted and proud and we scream in a barbaric way.

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world” — Walt Whitman

That’s about all you should ever hear, that and the silence. Above all, you should hear nothing. You should be surrounded by silence.


I fell in love with New Mexico the moment I moved there. I just dreamt about it again last night, how I moved there again but this time somewhere in the Jemez Mountains or further north like Chama.

I often joke to my family that they should look for me first in New Mexico if I ever disappeared.

I know I can’t separate myself from society and people, I am human and social, but I don’t have to be elbow to elbow with noisy people.

I feel alive when I climb over rocks and walk in desert washes. I’m invigorated when there’s no one around. I feel deeply rooted in the forests and jungles of the world.

My yawp is a rebirth of my connection to the worldwithout the noise. It’s a pure signal. The message has been transmitted and received in full.

Nothing can contaminate it. No social media, no Kardashian, no Trump. It’s me and the silence. Around me, next to me, and inside me.

This is all for me and all for you if you only hear the silence.


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