Lowering the Boom Box

on

My brain...and it goes to '11'.
I dare you to find the off switch.  I double dare you.

I always needed something.  When I was younger, I always needed something in the car or the bus to read.  Even a two minute car ride required a few minutes of perusing through my library to find the book I wanted, nay, required, to take on a simple trip to the shopping mall.  I have always had the need to occupy my mind, to keep my brain busy, to keep the world at bay.  I was surrounded by a soft cell of words and imaginary worlds.

My love of words has always been matched by my love of music.  I considered getting into the Royal Conservatory of Music playing the flute (watch out macho trumpet players!), but it wasn’t only classical music that captured my imagination.  I had a rainbow of music genres plugged into my ears at all times – death metal, blues, jazz, shoegazer, electronic, pop, punk, new age…you name it, I had a level of interest in it.  Walkmans, portable CD players, mp3 players, iPods…I have gone through more of these in the quest for constant, on-demand music than I care to imagine.

As I got older, I had noticed that my choice in music was getting more to the intense level – that is, quiet, more melodic music just didn’t hold sway any more.  I needed more fervent, heightened, punchy music to keep me going.  I was becoming a junkie for hardcore distraction.  You see, these chomping crunching chords and ear-blowing beats served a purpose beyond music appreciation 101.  They got me out of my self.  They kept me from thinking the thoughts that would dominate and browbeat me otherwise.  They put me on a different mental path – a path of screeching horns, bellowing bass and frenetic vocals…all of which could drown out the disharmonious me. I needed noise.

Bring the noise
Bring the noise

Noise was doing for me what alcohol would do for me later – take me out of self, remove the painful and demoralizing thoughts, drain the blood that gave life to my own state of being.  Noise was visceral, it was life-giving; it had substance through usurping the old me and replacing it with things that had cadence and meaning.  My life had no meaning, but a symphonic suite in A-flat or a four minute song by Slayer had meaning. There was composure and lift in the music, there was a balance, there was a harmonious conclusion.  These were the things missing in me…or at least I felt there was.

Alcohol would further drown and beat the me out of me.  It eventually took over completely, and even started to suffocate the one thing that always kept me together – the music.  My drinking was like a wet blanket, thrown over my emotions to mute them all out.  And so like the graphic equalizer on a stereo, in an attempt to even out the booming lows, I also evened out the thrilling trebles.  It can’t work any other way – when you try to cover up one feeling, it covers them all.  So I went through life proportionately muted and dulled.  No high, no lows.  The noise continued though, but it wasn’t music.  I had the noise of lies, the noise of drama, the noise of trouble, the noise of alcoholism, the noise of just noise.  My mind was cross-wired with pain being the only volume dial on it.  How painful did I want it life?  I could always dial it up.

And I did.

Not be confused with the cans of whoop-ass or worms.
Not be confused with the cans of whoop-ass or worms.

In my sobriety, I have recovered from the noises of my own making.  I have a different way of looking at things.  But I still keep the music.  I still plug in.  I still have those books in my  knapsack going on the subway.  They still play a role in my life.  But things are changing.

I have noticed in the last few months that I don’t need to plug into the music as much.  I have noticed that my need to be somewhere else in mind  isn’t so strong.  I have noticed that I take the earbuds out and put my mp3 player away.  Silence has become my new music.  Silence is what my mind and soul craves these days.  I seek solace in the silence and navigate my way through my own spirit without distractions.  I let the low humming of passing cars be my mantra.  I find comfort in the swishing of skate blades on ice as I sit in the park near the rink. Rain on the hood of my car is as soothing as anything else I can find on itunes.  Silence is my music now.

I sometimes find myself sitting on a bench, unplugged from tunes, plugged into myself,  I stare at the sky, breath deep, and try to inhale the stars.

Silence.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. sherryd32148 says:

    And it’s real silence isn’t it? Not just being quiet…real silence. That’s when the brain AND the mouth shut up at the same time.

    I think it’s bliss.

    Great post.

    Sherry

    1. What a great distinction there, Sherry. That’s the beauty of silence…my mouth finally stops running off too 🙂

      Thanks for your insightful comments,as usual!

      Paul

  2. zachandclem says:

    I still have to learn to cope with silence. Thanks for pointing that one out! x

    1. Thanks Z&C! Silence is a lovely thing indeed 🙂

  3. Wow. Nope, I surely am not there. Silence is still creapy. Lol! I still try to tune out the world with music, there is still is bunch of noise in my head! Funny I was actually thinking the other day, how the heck do you turn it off! i am a thinker i guess, ha, more like over-thinker! Lol! Well we’re turning the tv off more and more, and i am really enjoying that, maybe that’s a start! Thanks for the share, lots to think about… 😀

    1. I think you nailed it with the being an over-thinker…absolutely right. I still have times where I want to flood myself with music or something that takes me out of me. I also have to realize that music is a joy for me, so I need to check my motives when I am blaring the tunes.Silence will come to you when you need it – don’t fear it! At meetings you can tell who has trouble with silence – they are the ones who will share in a panicked state when the room is quiet for a minute or so when no one has anything to share…lol. (I used to be one of those people).

      Thanks for the wonderful comments!

  4. Brilliant. I could relate to nearly every word. (Sorry, not a flute player, lol).

    I’ve unintentionally increased the silence around me too. I go for runs without music, I walk with the dogs with no music, I can even spend all day at the house now without turning on the tv or stereo. Enjoying the silence extends also beyond music… It’s nice to just totally unplug too. No texting, no Internet browsing, no emails, no phone calls.. Just blessed silence. It ties into mindfulness too for me, being in each moment fully, versus trying to escape or fast- forward.

    1. Thanks, C – it’s ok, you don’t have to have been a flute player 🙂

      I am not a runner (maybe one day), but I can imagine that place you get to in your runs where everything is shut off, so to speak, and it’s like a running meditation. I don’t think you can get that from a treadmill. Something about being outside in the world and tuning out. Wonderful. Funny you mentioned unplugging – it’s something I have been toying with…taking a week of no technology, outside of work that is. I think it would be initially difficult, but then I would be ok with it. We’ll see.

      But what you say about being in the moment fully…I dig that 🙂

      Paul

  5. Number 9 says:

    me too! silence has become solace for me. I rarely have the radio on in the car anymore. great post. i love the picture of the boom box. brings back memories! mine wasn’t that big but it had all the buttons and knobs and could rewind a tape faster than the best of them.

    1. Oh yeah, the boom box. I see one now and then…how cool (and heavy) were they? I laughed about rewinding a tape fastest – I always had my tape player going…and don’t forget the mix tapes…ha ha. Silence in the care – that’s a big one for me too. Usually it’s an automatic thing to have the radio on. Now I am content, like you, to just drive in silence. Safer too 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by – always thrilled to see ya here 🙂

      Paul

  6. Lisa Neumann says:

    In early sobriety I stumbled upon “the silence” and arrogantly claimed sober life was BORING. I crave it—now. I love the flow of your posts. They go full circle for me (beg/middle/end/beg). When I got sober I truly believed there was an end to “recovery” … I wanted to get recovered and be done with it so I could get on with my life. You remind me of the flow and evolution of my recovery and thus my life. Love and light my friend.

    1. Once again you pack so much in so few words, Lisa. Yes, I too had to learn that I don’t finish my steps and get a certificate from God saying I am done…ha ha. It’s a journey, no doubt, and we grow along the way. Each little phase has it’s own landmarks and demarcations and for me silence is a new one for me. It’s organic and not forced in any way. And that’s what I love about these things. They come on their own time.

      The “boring’ thing – oh yes, I hear that all the time. I have heard guys threaten to go back to drinking because the silence is deafening. It’s difficult at the beginning in that we cannot stand to be with ourselves in the quiet, but that is one way of growing. Took me time to be honest about how much time I could be with myself. I am getting better at it, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for the kind words, Lisa, and once again getting me thinking. Always glad to see you here.

      Paul

  7. love this. it reminds me of the counting crows lyrics “how am i gonna keep myself away from me …”

    1. I am going to hunt that song down and give it a listen (loudly, of course!) Love when you’re here, Belle! Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂

      Paul

  8. Amy says:

    I am just getting to the ‘Silent Me’ point. And, I was a flute player. 🙂 Love this post.

    1. You were a flute player too? Awesome! The lightest case to carry around…my friend was a tuba player…he rarely brought it home to practice…ha ha. Silent Amy – what a pleasure to get into that place within ourselves and finding that peace. I see it in your writing too – that comfort with yourself and that inner serenity. Thanks for sharing that and thanks for swinging by here…really means a lot.

      Tweet tweet (flute)

      Paul

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