We are surrounded by noise. Not just the acoustic noise of urban or suburban living, but the noise of a thousand, even a million voices directed at us every day, every hour and every minute. So many messages seeking to convince us of our needs, wants, qualities and deficits. So many attempting to influence us to follow today’s socially acceptable path of choice. Others that encourage us to run off that path and liberate ourselves, to throw caution to the wind and be free. Messages that tell us we cannot succeed, how hard it all is. Advice that tells us how easy it all is, how we have already succeeded but don’t really know it (subscribe to our blog and we’ll tell you why). Of course, a bewildering onslaught of voices desperately persuading us to purchase, donate or otherwise send money. So much fear and anger. The noise is deafening.
Where, in the midst of all this, do we find peace? How do we proceed?
I think it is hard to truly believe in yourself, saturated as we are in this societal noise. Myself, I like to think of it as finding the “signal” amidst all the noise. I remember as a kid I enjoyed tuning into baseball games while reading in the evening. Some may remember the good ‘ol days of AM radio. Remember patiently turning the dial of the tuner with agonizingly delicate touches, searching the labrynth of noise – a thousand voices talking over themselves – until that faint, slight signal emerged. Back and forth would go the tuner, homing in on the strongest possible signal strength, often full of static and always transient, never robust. I would pull in the signal for a game (didn’t matter what game) and for a few rewarding minutes I could lay there, windows open seeking that barest of breezes on oppressively hot, muggy summer nights listening to some far-away game and reading, always reading.
This is the sort of stuff I call upon when I need to believe in myself. It’s is real and enduring. I can feel it. It’s a small thing. It is a signal in the wilderness of noise. It brings me home.
To find my own signal in the midst of the noise I think back and identify the truest things I can say definitely about myself over the course of my life. I love reading. Performing music has always been vital to my life, though I have yet to take it where I want to go with it. For years I have found pleasure in solving problems by writing code and I have yet to take it to the level I want to go with it (keeping in mind that “writing code” is a relatively new opportunity in my life). I have always loved animals and now I am surrounded by too many animals and despite the occassional frustrations they save my soul regularly. I love mathematics and the sort of thinking that calms the mind when solving math problems. But not quickly. Quietly, slowly and by myself. I crave the inner flow that comes from great deliberation and concentration. So many distractions in life it is hard to get there often enough. The strongest, most vital thread that ties all the disparate parts of my life together is teaching, learning and leadership. I have yet to realize all that I have to experience along that path.
I feel great passion burning inside me even after these decades. I am capable of great compassion but have yet to learn and practice all that I should. I believe in being kind, though I fail at this sometimes. I love my wife and am deeply and totally committed to her. Coming later in my life, this love is still something I am figuring out. It saves me.
So, I know the themes. And the most important is that I am not done yet. Forget the naysayers. Tune out the discordant drones. Be fearless. Or, put another way, vamp on another major theme in my life and be a complete pain in the ass until I get what I want. Believe in myself. The signal is strong.
I bet it is strong in many people. The trick is to play with that tuner until you feel it. I am not sure it is possible to ever eliminate the noise. There always seems to be a bit of static which is probably good since it keeps our attention on keeping the signal as clear as possible.
Be sure you know what the noise is in your life and where it comes from. Dial it out. Believe in yourself.