The Absence Of

The pain behind my knee.

The buzz of children’s voices at the end of a school day.

The sound of traffic along the trail.

The view of the mountain in the distance.

Did we notice they were there? Of course we did.

Because we notice when they’re gone.


Someone once asked me in a room full of educators what my favorite time of the school day was: “The moment after the last bell when the school is quiet again.”

I realized almost immediately that some people took this to mean that I—a teacher in a room of teachers—like school best when there are no children in it. I felt their judgmental glares and worked to quickly repair their inaccurate assumption: “It’s like the building and I can take a deep breath together, look back on what we’ve accomplished, and start planning for tomorrow.” It is when the sounds of school are gone that I can truly appreciate it all.

About a week ago I was hiking a three-mile stretch of the Colorado Trail with Micah and for about the first mile in, every time we’d stop to look at the way the trees grow, to inspect one of the many teepees, or to listen the birds chirp and branches creek, I’d add on, “You can still hear the highway.” And sure enough, the same sounds that set the backdrop to my home only half-an-hour away drifted through the forest to where we stood.

Then we started downhill, still on the way in to the forest. Some of you may recognize then, that meant that—when we decided to turn around—we’d be walking uphill back to the car. Downhill is what we noticed as we stopped to inspect the dozen-or-so varieties of mushrooms we could spot, to admire the changes from tall aspens to dense pines, back to aspens (shorter this time) and fields of wildflowers mixed in. It wasn’t until we were headed back (uphill, of course), narrowly escaping downhill cyclists and maintaining a momentum that shaved minutes off our miles that I suddenly noticed, “You can’t hear the highway anymore.”

Quiet. Birds and squirrels and branches and breath. Quiet.

Why’d it take me so long to notice? Never mind.

The fact is that I did notice. Because it wasn’t there.

Just like darkness is the absence of light. And cold is the absence of heat.

Appreciation is the absence of abundance.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Raivenne says:

    “Appreciation is the absence of abundance.” is the positive view of “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. It’s an important distinction to note.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “ Appreciation is the absence of abundance.”
    Totally writing that down. It’s a profound thought that can apply to many aspects of our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad I returned today (as I am an early morning Slicer) and could view your lovely video – so much in just 2 minutes! and read how you took your ideas and formed a slice. I like how you structured it by beginning with the school moment and explain your why which others may misunderstand at first. I like how you describe the hike (as I’m more of a stranger to hiking but your chosen words made had me steping down and up, right beside you. And then the quiet…Your closing is perfect. You combine words for me in an unexpected way – Usually appreciation is associated with having SO much. You wisely get this reader to notice and agree that it is when it is all gone, that we truly appreciate. So glad you have stepped up to join our community as a leader. I like your brief, insightful video inspirations and your writing style. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Morgan Davis says:

      Thank you for coming back, Sally! It has been a joy to join the community and I have loved getting to know everyone better, too!


  4. Denise Krebs says:

    Morgan, I have appreciated your videos too this month. I like your title and introduction. “The Absence of” and then a short list of things to ponder being absent. It was an effective intro.

    Liked by 1 person

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