Back in Chicago, this literally did not exist. We as humans can close our eyes and shut off our sense of sight, but our ears are always open. We must listen. In bustling cities, this means we hear: cars speeding by, subwoofers rattling license plate holders, drunk couples yelling at one another, an upstairs neighbor walking across creaky floorboards.
Here in Colorado, what I occasionally hear is the absence of sound. Up in the mountains, or down here on the flats during a snowstorm, there is an invigorating silence that I had forgotten exists in this world. With nothing external to occupy my eardrums, I hear my own heartbeat. During a training ride, that’s a fun thing to listen to. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub, three times each second.
I hear myself breathe, and focus on the deep inhalation, the long exhalation, over and over. I hear a dog off in the distance, barking perhaps because he too needs something to fill his auditory void.
Then I stop pedaling, and turn to admire the view. The wind slowly fades, as does my heartbeat and my labored breathing.
And then, again, silence.
I can hear myself smile.