Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California.
The rising moon and setting sun shared the sky. Colors and shadows changed continuously.
I heard about the claustrophobia that can accompany absolute silence even in wide open spaces like this, and wanted to experience it but couldn't escape my own noise. First it was my footsteps crunching and clacking on loose rocks and the zup-zip-zup-zip noise of my arm brushing against my jacket as I walked. Every sound was amplified a hundred times.
I stopped immediately. What a relief from all that noise! I stood perfectly still, listening for the silence to begin... but not yet. A new noise took over... my breathing! Even shallow breathing sounded like a steam engine. I tried breathing through my mouth. That didn't help so I held my breath. Okay... finally... quiet... ... Oh no, NOW what?!! Choosha-choosha-choosha-choosha!!
I'm standing absolutely still, holding my breath. What the heck is that noise? Maybe it's some gigantic machine in a factory miles away in the middle of the desert. I clamped my hands tightly over my ears, but that made it even louder! How could that be? Oh no!...
It was the sound of my blood pumping! Now that I knew what it was, thinking about it made it louder still, drowning-out every other thought. I couldn't escape it... that constant CHOOsha-CHOOsha-CHOOsha. Was that what caused the claustrophobia people told me about, and not the silence?
I realized that the only way to stay relatively sane was to drown out the internal noise with external noise. I began to walk back along the trail dragging my shoes heavily against the loose stones, swinging my arms hard against my jacket and talking loudly to no one, until the unstoppable became... unnoticeable.
What a sight and sound I must have been. If rocks could talk.