I grasped my light blue board and firmly pushed myself under a wave. The freezing ice water trickled down the back of my wetsuit and I shivered in the midst of the thrill of it all. I resurfaced, opened my eyes, and locked eyes with the gloomy gray horizon directly in front of me.
The water from the back of the wave flew like raindrops onto my head and I turned to face the shoreline. The beach was covered in an eerie white cloud of fog, and as far as my eyes could see there were no other signs of life anywhere near me. I smiled, traced my hand on the surface of the water, and checked my watch. 7 a.m., I made it just in time for the swell of the week.
From the horizon, I could see a wave building. With the swift motion of my legs, I turned my board, braced myself and began to paddle. With every powerful stroke, I aggressively fought to catch the perfect spot on the wave that turned out to be a lot bigger then I expected. I pushed myself up, bent down in the perfect position, and put one foot in front of the other.
Unfortunately, the ride was cut short due to a simple rookie mistake. By putting too much weight on my front left leg I started to nosedive (the tip of the board goes underwater) and was quickly welcomed by the cold choppy churning waters of the Atlantic.
I had been in this position before. You cover your arms over your head and let the motion of the waves carry you until you are able to either grab your leash and pull yourself back to surface, or if you are not wearing one you simply just kick back up instead. This time, however, something felt different. The cold March waters shocked me to my core and I froze.
Suddenly, I could not tell the difference between what was the surface and what was the sand. I was not wearing a leash. "Kick Hannah, just kick," I tried to tell myself as I sank deeper and deeper. My body stayed frozen, not reciprocating anything my brain was telling me to do. That is when I noticed it.
I noticed the chilling sound of silence.
I realized no matter how loud I was going to scream, no matter how much I could yell at my body to move, and no matter how badly my body was going to cry out for oxygen, no one was going to hear me. It was solely a battle between me and the sound of nothing.
It was in the sound of silence when I heard my thoughts the loudest. The last feeling that I thought would come over me in what should have been pure panic turned out instead to be pure peace. The deeper I fell, the oddly calmer I grew. For once in what felt like months, I had a wave of tranquility overcome my entire body.
I felt everything. I felt cold, I felt alone, I felt how badly my body needed air, and I felt each pump of blood as it flowed through my veins. But most importantly, I felt so aware and alive. What a freeing feeling that was.
And then suddenly, I heard.
I heard the sound of the waves crashing over me. I heard the noise of the bubbles brushing past my ears. I heard all of the clunks and rattles that came with the depths of the ocean. And then I heard my brain telling myself one last time to move.
Just like that, I was able to kick. Each reaching pull I took towards the sound of the waves overhead came with a sudden gust of energy I felt from deep inside. Just when I thought I was out of oxygen, I breached the surface. I took the biggest gulp of air that I had ever taken in my whole life. I was so relieved and happy.
Having a calm mind can remind you of just how much inner strength is deep within you. In the sound of silence I learned that as much as I wanted to fight to find the light of the surface, I had to first find myself in the cold darkness of the abyss. Sometimes in life, we have to go through the darkness in order to learn how to smile so brightly.
Silence is actually not a silent thing at all. It is full of answers that come from within. We just have to take the time to actually listen to our thoughts every once in a while in order to become more in touch with our emotions and inner well being.