by Bil Aulenbach

The Power of Quietude

In 1922, the grandparents of my wife, Annie, bought a cabin without indoor plumbing, electricity, or refrigeration located above Bass Lake in the Sierra Nevada in California. The cabin has stayed in Annie’s family ever since.

In late September 2019, Annie and I drove more than six hours from Irvine to the cabin to reminisce about all the wonderful summers Annie spent there since 1942.

The cabin now has indoor plumbing, a propane hot-water heater, and a refrigerator but still eschews electricity—so no phones, radio, television, computers, or electrical lighting. Annie and I had all the quietude in the world.

Fortunately, the potbelly stove kept us warm as long as we kept it fed.

Every night, we went to bed around nine—in pitch blackness.

It was my job every morning to get out of bed (brrrr), start a fire, and turn on the coffee percolator that has resided in the cabin since 1922.

The weather in the Sierra Nevada was beautiful. On the first morning of our stay, Annie and I hiked up to the rock dome at the tree line, where we could see Creation at its best for at least a hundred miles all around. The view was breathtaking—not only because of the altitude but also because we could see the mountains, valleys, green forests, blue sky, and white clouds in all their splendor. We felt a peace that surpassed all understanding

I found that being in the midst of Creation was contagious, and in the afternoons, I read and wrote while Annie painted—all in quietude.

Once night fell, at about seven o’clock, we made a campfire and watched the multicolored flames dance under a starry sky, with only the sound of a busy fire to disturb the quietude.

We took walks in boggy meadows where Creation exploded all around us and the eerie silence was broken only by the wind and gurgling brooks.

Lying in bed in this quietude, without a care in the world, allowed my creative juices to flow. Time didn’t matter because I had no schedule and just feel asleep again when my mind shut off. This was a luxury I never had at home. It was magnificent.

Annie and I enjoyed three days of this quietude with no idea what was happening in the outside world. Life without one phone call, text message, or robocall was heaven on earth.

I read two books, outlined a chapter in my new manuscript, wrote this blog post, and sometimes just sat and stared at the beauty of Creation. The stillness spoke loudly.

Above all, I enjoyed spending alone time with my best friend of almost sixty years, who was equally inspired by the memories and the ambiance.

Unfortunately, all good things must end, and we eventually had to head home. Once we’d driven about five miles away from the cabin, the car radio started crackling, the GPS turned on, and our phones started beeping. The quietude was gone, but its creative power remained.

When was the last time you had quietude?

 

Image courtesy of Maurice King (CC BY 2.0)

4 Responses to The Power of Quietude

  • A long time!

  • Ah, at great unhappiness of friends & family, I refuse to carry my cellphone “around” with me. I check it periodically, meaning a couple of times a day. It’s astounding how much quietood this simply act provides, Bil. Love you both (but, don’t call!)

  • I have enjoyed/needed quiet time since childhood. I find that at this point in life, I may need to remind myself that it is time for quiet. Very few have my cellphone number, and I can go without checking it for hours! I enjoyed your reading about your quiet time, Bil.

  • This is my favorite blog of all those you’ve written, Bil. I’m so pleased for you and Anne, yet I envy your days away where you could savor creation and be opened to your own creativity. My place of quietude was a simple cabin built by my father with no power tools, only the power of his hands, in northern Minnesota. Some days I yearn to return. Realistically, I need to seek out creation nearby. Thanks for the vicarious experience! 🌼🌲

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