When the Noise Falls Away

I found my room remarkably quiet. I returned passed sunset, yet my suitemates hadn’t arrive at our dorm yet. I swung my room’s door open and… nothing. Nothing grand, not that I was expecting anything. The emptiness was just what struck me. How empty the room felt. My pre-move cleaning is responsible—I was happy with that. But the room no longer wears the mantle it does when things are amiss and the semester is bustling. It’s just a room. It doesn’t radiate companionship like a humble abode would.

I sit and contemplate my trip, and realize something crucial. There comes with traveling—traveling alone, that is—an intense interior awareness. A mental state characterized by the feeling of “no one else is the room but me.” By “room” I mean my mental space. School assignments, social pressures, household responsibilities, music, videos, friends… these all normally clutter the mind, forms of interrupting noise vying for space. All layers of stimuli that demand attention, distract. From what? From the Self experiencing. The static noise of everyday experience shrouds the Self, the only constant. Traveling is like a nice, warm shower in that it disarms the defensive walls we instinctively erect around our internal reality. Without mental cruft to lure, the only option left is for the Self to turn inward and confront your internal shadow, secrets and all. Traveling renders me barren, leaving my mind to confront itself.

You only get such an interiority in early mornings, warm showers, withdrawn travel, and the quietude of an empty dorm room. Don’t underestimate what’s left when you deprive yourself of external stimuli. Those moments show a wholly clear tint of reality.

Something I once heard comes to mind. Entertain the time period when lovers didn’t have the ability to see one another once parted. This was the world before it was connected, before trains, cars, and phones. How much would that affect the intensity of your emotions? Wouldn’t that transform moments between you? Might love have a truly different taste?