To Walk in Solitude, To Listen to Silence

Walking Down Old Baldy

Walking Old Baldy ©2010 Bo Mackison

The more zigzag the way, the deeper the scenery.
The winding path approaches the secluded and peaceful place.
~ Huáng Bīnhóng

Reflecting on what silence looks like. I ponder what a photograph of silence might look like, and then wander (apt word) through a few of my photo catalogs. I’m drawn to the many photos of paths or trails leading into wilderness areas, paths I walked alone in silence. A meditative kind of walking.

Whether I am walking along a sand dune, part worn boardwalk and part shifting sand . . . or through a green forest, thick with green vegetation, towering leafy trees, wildflowers sprinkling pastel colors amidst my feet . . . or tramping on a desert trail, worn deeply into the side of a mountain, stretching through stands of cactus, climbing over piles of tumbled rock . . . or strolling on the smooth pavement in a tended garden, walking further and further away from the crowds, deep into the recesses where few wander, but joy is found . . . or hiking along a snaking path through the wilderness of badlands, a barren maze of eroded land, ridges, peaks, and mesas — all of these I walk in silence.

I listen to the silence, for silence has a sound. I seek answers to questions and perhaps I’ll figure out an answer or two.  Or I simply consider the questions and seek no answers, the easier way to discovery is often simply listening.

Forest Path

Forest Path ©2011 Bo Mackison

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air,
but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black,
curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes.
All is a miracle.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Cactus, Rock and the Trail

Cactus, Rock, Trail ©2012 Bo Mackison

“Walking is the great adventure,
the first meditation,
a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind.
Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility.”
~ Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

There Was a Crooked Path

There Was a Crooked Path © 2011 Bo Mackison

“A fact bobbed up from my memory,
that the ancient Egyptians prescribed walking through a garden
as a cure for the mad.
It was a mind-altering drug we took daily.

~ Paul Fleischman, in Seedfolks

Storm Approaching

Organ Pipe Path ©2012 Bo Mackison

Our way is not soft grass,
it’s a mountain path with lots of rocks.
But it goes upward, forward,
towards the hidden sun.
~ Ruth Westheimer

Badlands-Two Trees

Two Trees in the Badlands © 2011 Bo Mackison

That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself.
It doesn’t matter much whether you get where you’re going or not.
You’ll get there anyway.
Every good hike brings you eventually back home. ~ Edward Abbey

I find my way through the wilderness and eventually back home.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I’m ready for some good long walks.

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