Sarah McAffry | Voted Knoxville's Best Photographer | Family, Senior and Teen Photography in East Tennessee » Knoxville Family, Senior and Teen Photographer in East Tennessee

The Ugly Thing I Learned In the Desert

It’s a strange thing to be surrounded by so much beauty, and yet feel so unsettled at the same time.

The minute we arrived in the desert last week, everything stopped. The almost frantic pace of packing suitcases for 5 people, flying from East Tennessee to Southern California, visiting family and sightseeing, then driving from the ocean to the desert – everything came to a halt when the car stopped in Joshua Tree.

And let me tell ya – the silence of the desert? It’s deafening.

When we got to the AirBNB, Andrew walked around to the back of the house to unlock the door, and I seriously ran after him – I actually couldn’t stand in the silence alone. It was unnerving.

I’m actually a person who prefers quiet, who thrives on alone time, but this was different.¬†This isn’t something I’ve ever felt before.

Every time I’ve spent quiet time in the natural world, I’ve been surrounded by some kind of sound – crashing waves, wind in the trees, crickets chirping – something to give my mind a place to go. But this was different.

Actual silence.

You know what I thought I’d feel? Gratefulness.

But what I actually felt? Scared, unsettled, and generally freaked out.

That lasted for about 30 minutes until I finally settled in.

It might have only lasted 30 minutes, but it was a wake-up call for me that I don’t want to forget.

I realized that when I’m stripped of my kids, my work, my home, I’m kind of lost.

My identity is so wrapped up in the tasks that I do for them everyday that I had no idea what to do with myself when I’m without that.

It actually made me feel a little crazy at first, but I decided it’s something I can change. I’m working on taking time to just sit in the silence sometimes.

At home, that means ignoring the laundry pile and the overflowing kitchen sink. At work, that means ignoring the full inbox and mile-long to-do list. Even if just for 10 minutes at a time. And it’s making a difference.

To be honest, I’ve idolized productivity and efficiency for so long that choosing silence feels like a waste of time, a waste of resources.

But goodness gracious, if the creator of the universe prioritized silence and rest enough to devote an entire day to it, who am I to act too busy for it?!

Would you join me in laying down our idols of productivity and efficiency? To embrace that quotable verse we so often ignore? Be still and know. It actually simple. Let’s not make it harder than it needs to be.

Stop. Rest. Relax. Exhale. Be.

Here’s to ignoring the to-do list and embracing the silence, friends.

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P.S. I made this image of the desert the wallpaper on my phone to serve as a reminder. I created a download with 5 images that you can choose from if you’d like the daily reminder too. I’ve learned that to embrace silence, I first have to put down my phone. So download the set, upload your pic to your phone, then put it away and embrace the silence. I hope it will be a daily reminder for you as it has been for me.