These questions and many others were posed by Erling Kagge, famed Norwegian explorer and the first person to reach the South Pole alone. Recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, he has crafted a beautiful and transformative book, Silence: In the Age of Noise. Exploring the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create he describes how essential silence is to our sanity and happiness, opening doors to wonder and gratitude. Here is a small excerpt from this lovely and powerful read:
"Most of the people I meet have enough knowledge to fill nine lives. There has never been a book written that can tell you more than what you yourself have experienced.
"So, take a deep breath. Not much is required to understand silence and how you can take pleasure in shutting out the world. This bit of knowledge, as the poet Olav H. Hauge writes, is something which your heart has always possessed:
"When it comes to the punch, there's so little left to do, and that tiny bit the heart has always known.
"Which paths lead to silence? Certainly trips into the wild. Leave your electronics at home, take off in one direction until there's nothing around you. Be alone for three days. Don't talk to anyone. Gradually you will rediscover other sides of yourself.
"The most important thing, however, is not what I believe, but that we each discover our own way. You, my own three daughters, me – all of us have our own paths. Sva marga: follow your own path. It is easier to find silence than many people think or believe. And neither professors, psychologists, Pascal, Cage nor a father of three like me are able to fully explain everything in words. It feels good to wonder on your own. Fortunately, there's no magic spell.
"I had to use my legs to go far away in order to discover this, but I now know it is possible to reach silence anywhere. One only need subtract.
"You have to find your own South Pole."
In the spirit of exploration and your own journey into the gifts silence,