In my last post, Finding Rhythm, I reflect briefly on our two month trip to Colorado and touch on how the experience compared to my initial expectations. Although I never found the groove I was originally seeking, I happily succumbed to the quiet of the mountains and in that stillness, I began to hear the music in my heart sing through.
I ended my previous post with a beautifully composed quote and it’s worth repeating for further contemplation.
Chase whatever it is that fills your heart with music and make sure it’s a beat you can dance to. – Matt Baker
This one quote concisely and eloquently captures the profound realization I discovered during our off-the-grid experience. That creating the best life, like music, is all about finding the perfect harmony and the right rhythm. And there is no one-size-fits-all music score to life. You have to be your own composer. But first, before you can even begin to fine tune the notes and adjust the rhythm, you actually have to hear the music that’s in your heart. And to accomplish this, you must eliminate the noise in your mind.
Eliminate the Noise
There was so much to love about living off-grid in the Colorado mountains. I certainly love adventure and a good challenge, but the tranquility was by far my favorite feature. The peace and quiet was astounding, almost palpable. No phones, no notifications, no TV, no traffic, and no nearby neighbors. We did periodically have a plane fly above us, but otherwise it was just the serene sounds of nature.
But eliminating those external sources of noise wasn’t entirely soothing to me. Because once you turn off all the outside noise and distractions, you have only your own thoughts to preoccupy you. And unfortunately, in today’s society, we no longer have an easy “off” switch for this internal noise in our minds and many of us, myself included, have a very difficult time even dialing down the volume. When your mind is incessantly racing with thoughts, it quickly becomes exhausting and distracting. You can’t focus. You lose sight of your priorities. You become disorganized, forgetful and frustrated. And without self-intervention, this loud internal noise will only amplify out of control and lead to stress, anxiety or even depression.
I didn’t fully realize it until recently (or maybe I just wasn’t willing to admit it) but I’ve suffered from stress and anxiety for well over three years now. Once upon a time, my life seemed organized and purpose driven, and after a productive day, I could sit back, relax and get lost in a good book for hours. But in recent years, I have struggled to stay focused for even ten minutes. Life has become too busy and too noisy and I find it difficult to quiet the persistent voices in my head… the ones constantly reminding me of all the things I need to do or figure out. It’s very distracting and frustrating. The only thing that had previously helped me overcome this issue was earphones and soft instrumental music. It’s been my go-to quick fix to help me calm my brain waves and focus on the one task at hand whether it’s reading, writing or doing something super taxing such as bookkeeping and other administrative tasks for our business.
But this inability to focus is not normal. And it is certainly not healthy. We all need an adequate amount of quietude and stillness in our lives; not only to give our brains some time to rest and reenergize before jumping into the next task on our to-do list, but to also come back to center, listen to our hearts, and make sure we’re still on the right path. We are usually in such a frantic hurry to get to where we are going that it’s not until we’re utterly burnt out and exhausted that we realize we’ve been heading in the wrong direction. I now fully understand and appreciate how important it is to take just a little quiet time for yourself as often as possible to focus on your goals and values and to set intentions that move you in the right direction. I have found meditation, yoga, journaling and leisurely walks in nature to be tremendously therapeutic in my current quest to overcome stress and anxiety. And although I prefer an hour daily, I find even 15-20 minutes of quiet solitude first thing in the morning to be extremely beneficial.
Okay, back to Colorado… so once I was able to eliminate the noise, both the external clatter and the internal chatter, I started to hear the same deep thoughts sing through to the surface over and over again. Melodic notions I’ve heard many times before, but were always muffled quickly by the boisterous busyness of modern day life… I adore nature, I desire simplicity, I need quiet, and I want to slow down. Then there’s also the low-toned longing I’ve always had to become a writer and advocate for causes I care deeply about.
So here I was weeks into our trip, fully embraced by the utter quiet and peacefulness, when the music in my heart finally struck a chord and I could feel the harmonic vibration. It all became so in tune with one another and I almost laughed at the irony of it all… the music had been there all along. The only thing that changed is that I had finally stepped into the director’s chair to make it come alive. I took charge of my life, I cut the noise, I retreated deep into nature, I found quiet, I slowed down and simplified and I have shared my voice through writing. I wasn’t merely hearing the music. I was creating the music.
What I’ve learned is this… Everything we desire in life is already within us. Peace, love, and happiness… it all manifests from within. That harmonious balance we all desperately seek is right there within our reach if only we find the courage to be our own director in life and compose only the music radiating from our hearts. That’s when the magic happens and you create the kind of music that gives you goose bumps.
Be the composer. Be the director. Cut the noise. Listen to your heart and create your own beautiful music for the world.