The most profound silence I have ever experienced was in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Miles from civilization, the quiet takes on a character one does not usually experience, to the point where the flapping of a raven’s wings startles you.
The best thing I have ever eaten was a seafood pasta dish called “frutas del mar”, while sitting on the banks of the grand canal in Venice.
My biggest regret was transferring from Warren Wilson College instead of graduating there, just so I could be closer to a boyfriend whom I broke up with a month later. Warren Wilson is the most amazing place on earth in which to get an education. I’ve left my soul there, on Dogwood Ridge, and have been trying to relocate to the area ever since.
The loudest noise I ever heard was 1200 of my fellow middle-schoolers screaming at the top of their lungs at a pep rally, just before both of my eardrums burst.
The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was the view of the mountain range from Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s where I want my ashes scattered.
The coldest I’ve ever been was the time that I had to walk to my car in the pouring rain and 40 mile per hour winds because my employer refused to shut down the drawbridge during a hurricane, and I needed the money too much to get fired by taking a stand. When I got home, after driving past fallen trees and downed power lines, my lips were blue.
The ugliest thing I’ve ever seen was the look on a coworker’s face when he was delighting in another coworker’s loss of his livelihood.
The drunkest I’ve ever been was the time I woke up in the trunk of my car and couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there. Which is why I haven’t had a drink in 28 years.
The happiest I have ever been is any time I’ve traveled and arrived at my destination safely, with all my luggage, and am about to concentrate on simply experiencing my new location. That “brink of adventure” feeling simply cannot be beaten.
The strongest I’ve ever been was the summer I was in the Youth Conservation Corps and had spent those months doing construction work. That experience also went a long way toward teaching me that I’m capable of anything. One of the stupidest things the government has ever done was to stop funding that program.
The proudest I’ve ever felt was when I went days without sleep to help a friend raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
The most darkness I’ve ever experienced was deep in the catacombs under the city of Paris, surrounded by miles of skulls, when the lights suddenly went out.
The brightest light I’ve ever seen was when I defied all advice and looked directly at a solar eclipse. That split second was also the most profound pain I’ve ever felt, and I was certain, as I fell to my knees, that my skull had been pierced clean through. They aren’t kidding. Don’t look directly at a solar eclipse.
The most awe I’ve ever felt was when I looked, for the first time, at the Grand Canyon.
The hottest I’ve ever been was in Nevada, but I didn’t know it. As a Florida girl, I’m used to gauging heat by how much I sweat, but this was a dry heat, so I didn’t realize it was 120 degrees out until I passed out.
The worst taste I’ve ever had in my mouth was the time I chugged some liquid Maalox which turned out to be several years old, and the ingredients had separated, leaving the medicine unmasked by flavoring. I think I vomited for about an hour.
The best smell I’ve ever experienced was smoked ham in a Virginia barn when I was already ravenously hungry.
The worst smell, by far, was Jacksonville, Florida before they closed the paper mills. I honestly don’t know how anyone could live here before that. It was sickening. Now it smells wonderful, thanks to the Maxwell House Coffee plant.