Hoh Rain Forest

Hoh Rain Forest

Deep silence + the presence of everything

Today, we are in a natural classroom with Gordon Hempton. A global adventurer and sound tracker, Gordon is able to unlock the underlying beauty of planet Earth through silence. Within our first moments together, it is clear that he is incredibly in-tune with his surroundings and tapping into a deeper wisdom. He is a living, breathing mash-up of John Muir + Thich Nhat Han.

We begin our educational immersion into a dark, thick forest to experience a vast world of silence before emerging single file back into the blinding sunlight, crashing ocean waves and salty shoreline. Silence - what does it actually mean in today's world? The Earth has become increasingly loud within cities, planes overhead, round the clock construction and people squawking at each other, in person and on social media, creating a daily commotion of disorientation. And like frogs in boiling water, we continually adjust to the din.

Or so I thought, until today.

It is here within in the verdant belly of raw nature where Gordon carefully leans in to give us a powerful gift; teaching each of us to re-train our clunky, misused ears into brilliant new eyes on the world. 

Think of your dead ears as new eyes.

Using hypersensitive sound gear as our training wheels, we dial-in to an augmented world of deeper bio-information, our ears guiding us to make connections to a spatial, natural world I never have experienced before. Nature is an inverted place for humans where hearing trumps sight, where you might see for a few hundred yards but with intention one can hear for miles and beyond.

Our five day immersion with him takes place in the ancient Hoh Rain Forest tucked within Olympic National Park.  It is a silent, cathedral-like setting. Turning up my microphone, I can pull in the low frequency of the distant ocean rumble, the velvety vibrations within fallen trunk trunks, the bright tree-top birdsong, and the lush vegetation gently wafting in the breeze. Each comes with its own unique sound signature.

Today is not a social hike in nature. Instead, it is a quiet, reflective, single file soundtracking immersion with very little conversation. We are bring taught to walk more thoughtfully and aware as we proceed deeper into the wild. We are now fully IN the forest and OF the forest, vs. just passing through with Sbux paper cup in hand. Gordon's lesson today is a very simple one - slow down, pay attention and become a better listener. Full stop. And soon it hits you that the Earth is abundantly alive and life is flowing all around us.

The forest is breathing and listening.

And we listen back with human feeling (not easy to explain!), exploring a deeper sense of timelessness (harder still to explain) and enjoying the wonderful human connection that comes from spending time ‘in class’ within this spiritual forest sanctuary. (very easy to explain)

Adisa and I barely know Barb's hand-chosen group of amazing and curious folks we are walking with today. They are highly creative in their lives as successful artists, designers, editors, archeologists, writers, healers and musicians. By the end of our time together, the group is tight - incredibly so. Our hushed conversations run increasingly deep, culminating in gentle knowing nods, broad smiles and giggles as each of us are reborn to re-learn listening under the guidance of Gordon. He drip feeds us information on: the science of sound and that everything is harmonically vibrating around us and the frequency of the tall sitka spruce shimmering and undulating above us in the afternoon breeze. 

I am getting a Phd in Listening where the classroom just happens to the world’s tallest and quietest forest. With microphones now fully dialed in, the velvet vibrations of the forest come to life. It feels like Christmas Day as new sensations flood the senses.

I am seven years old, again.

Thank you to the wonderful Barb Groth with the Nomadic School of Wonder who worked closely with Gordon to make this trip an once in a lifetime awe-inducing experience.