Silencio (eng)

Silence as one of the most valuable resources of our territory. 

We don’t need to go too deep to explain that we have lost a very important part of ourselves. Dependence on technology, life in the cities, the pace of life we all lead, it’s not surprising that when riders tell me about their experience at the end of MontañasVacías, many of them agree that one of the things that struck them the most was the Silence. (yes, I’m going to capitalise it in this article).

That’s why it’s a subject that has recently caught my interest. Riding alone for a few days in a place where less than one person per square kilometre lives, with hardly any mobile phone coverage and where one of the most remarkable things is not hearing or seeing anyone for many kilometres. The fact that for many people this is one of the most fulfilling experiences of their lives should make us understand, without any doubt, that Silence is a value, a resource, a treasure itself, not just a symptom of absence, of emptiness, of depopulation. Something we have to preserve and take care of.

«Silence is not the absence of anything. It’s the presence of everything«.

Rumí

An increasingly noisy natural environment is causing many animal species to be affected on a much larger scale than we can imagine. It interferes with their feeding, their mating periods, or by limiting their perception of other dangers. But this lack of silence not only affects wildlife, it also affects our health. We live immersed in an ocean of constant noise that never completely disappears. It has been proven that these constant noise levels influence the immune system, our rest, our ability to concentrate, our stress levels and our cardiovascular health.

This is all about external sources of noise, but what about internal noise? In an «ultra-connected» life in which immediacy and continuous over-stimulation have us completely hooked, there is no room left for inner Silence. We are incapable of being alone with ourselves, we are terrified of leaving aside our devices that keep us tied to that false parallel reality. A parallel reality that, in fact, makes us increasingly unhappy.

Chaos is the natural state of our brain. Through Silence one manages to calm it down.

Erling Kagge.

We have lost connection with the places around us, and more seriously, we have lost connection with ourselves. That’s why it is important to protect environments that allow us to re-establish those connections.

Route creators, events, brands, associations, companies or governments, we all have a responsibility to make progress in this direction. Actually, we all do, each in our own field, even on an individual level. Development and conservation must go hand in hand. For this reason, I think it’s very important to take a step ahead and make the preservation of this value an important part of my philosophy, part of what I’m trying to inspire with this project.

In the same way we pick up rubbish and avoid cooking outside to preserve our forests, or appreciate the purity of our skies, let’s work together to make MontañasVacías an increasingly silent space, a place for reconnection, with ourselves and with the environment around us.

From small individual actions to larger scale changes, we can act on many different levels:

  • Look for Silence, feel it, make it part of your life. Start with small actions such as trying to eat in silence with no screens, switching off an hour before going to sleep or jumping into meditation or mindfulness.
  • Prioritise respectful ways of moving and travelling in nature: walking, running, cycling, or even rowing is the best for your health and for the planet’s. Less pollution, less noise, and on top of that, you’ll be healthier.
  • Nature doesn’t need your music, you can live without it for a while, and we all can probably talk a little quieter when we go out for outdoor activities, picnics, or simply spend some time outside. Because we don’t leave a trace just when we throw away litter or wipes, we also leave a trace if we cause dozens of animals to run away when we mess up with our noise. Respect rest hours if there are people around.
  • On my side, I will be promoting awareness of the responsible use of the resources and materials contained in MontañasVacías so that the profile of visitors riding these trails can be increasingly in line with the conservation of silence, making this a hallmark of the project.
  • On a larger scale, Public Administrations would also have a long way to go with this: Firstly, by encouraging projects that not only highlight the value of Silence as a resource, but also preserve it and help to conserve it so that it remains there for a long time. But also by regulating and ensuring the responsible use of the natural environment. Perhaps not just banning, but regulating that healthy and responsible use can reconnect us with the landscapes around us. It’s not easy, I know, but every year they legislate on issues with clearly far less consensus, don’t they?

Hence, it is in our hands to promote ways of feeling and living these places that preserve this treasure that is Silence. I wish I could keep receiving this message for a long time: «I’ve been riding all day without hearing anything but birds and the sound of wind».

And you, how do you think you can contribute?

Interesting links, books and resources:

  • Quietparks.org
  • Mindfulness for Beginners – Jon Kabat-Zinn 
  • Aprender a practicar Mindfulness – Vicente Simón
  • Einstein and the Art of Mindful Cycling – Ben Irvine
  • Silence in the age of noise – Erling Kagge
  • Biography of Silence – Pablo d’Ors
  • Irresistible – Adam Alter
  • Documentary: 100 días de soledad – José Díaz