Mount Baldy (elevation 10,064 ft)

“All our miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone [with God].”

Blaise Pascal

It is hard to escape the noise of everyday life. In Los Angeles, you cannot escape the morning traffic or the evening police car chase. There are the routine sounds we hear: working in a busy office, talking with coworkers and friends, listening to music or a favorite podcast, sitting in a coffee shop, eating dinner with friends, or watching the latest series on Netflix. There are the constant sounds we hear: text messages, emails, tweets, calendar reminders, to-do list alerts, breaking news, and spam phone calls. There are also the sounds of our busy hearts: our anxious thoughts, and our endless desires. All these sounds often turn into noise that is hard to escape. I often long to be in solitude to escape the noise of normal everyday life, so that I can think and refocus. I found the best place to find this type of solitude is on a hike, where I hear different sounds.

I often do hikes alone, although I do enjoy hiking with other people. There is something special about being alone on a mountain and listening to the sound of solitude. There are sounds that we often miss because the noise of normal everyday life drowns them out. For example, as I hike, I hear nature: the birds chirping, the sound of the wind through a canyon, water trickling through a stream, and the sound of rocks falling down the side of a cliff. These sounds appear as we slow down and remove the noise around us. The sound of solitude helps lower the noise in my head so that I can process life without all the distractions. Enjoying this time allows me to reset my mind on what is important in life, knowing and walking with my creator. There is a reminder that life is much bigger than I am, just one look at a massive mountain is a good reminder. There is a reminder of the brevity of life, we are here for only a short time. There is a reminder that just as there are many peaks and valleys in life and sometimes the path is not clear and you feel lost. Most importantly, there is a reminder that time alone with God brings peace that this world cannot offer.

Hiking is my favorite activity that allows me to exchange the noise of this life for the peaceful sound of solitude.

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