Choosing Now in the Noise

My refrigerator is dying.

My refrigerator is dying a long, slow, and very noisy death.

Before we go any further, let me assure you that there is an action plan underway and this situation is purely temporary, however, it is VERY LOUD and has been going on for a while.

I can hear my refrigerator from every room in the house but my bedroom.

Shall I say it again? It is VERY LOUD.

The funny thing is that the longer it goes on, the less we seem to notice it. The buzz becomes the norm. I only notice when it stops for a second. And then a wave of relief washes over me for the 30 seconds that it takes to start its chilly death knell again. It is then, in the moment that the buzz starts again, that I feel my jaw clench, that I feel other thoughts abandon me, that I steel myself against that infernal noise.

The world can be a very noisy place, and so much of that noise is out of our control. The closer we live to other humans, the more of that external noise we likely steel ourselves against every day: the traffic; construction; the folks who don’t seem to need sleep; the televisions; the radios; the chimes that let us know that we have a message, a text, dry laundry. All of this sound demanding our attention, infringing on our focus, distracting and attracting us. And that’s just the external stuff…

Then there’s the internal noise: the argument we had with a loved one that we’re replaying; the criticism we subject ourselves to when we get dressed; the old messages about our inadequacy; the regret about what has passed and the fears about what is to come. That’s a lot of noise.

IMG_3885What to do when the noise is too much? One of my favorite remedies for noise of all flavors is to get outside, in nature, or as close to nature as I can find. I love to take walks, and having a big dog, I always have a willing (and quiet) companion. There is a woods in my neighborhood. I can take a big sort of off-trail walk in the woods. I can also just skitter through the edge of it on a path that doesn’t require me to wear boots. Either plan gets me under trees, allows me the chance to see some critters, and gives me the sense of being elsewhere.

This is the perfect place for a sense meditation. A sense meditation just involves choosing one of your senses and drinking your surroundings in through that sense. I roll through the senses one at a time – well, except for taste. I don’t taste the woods. But I do the others, really noticing everything.

I am always amazed at how things come into sharp focus. I hear things I didn’t notice, tiny squirrel feet, bird wings. The green gets deeper and more vibrant; the trees seem to dance with color. The smell of the soil and the leaves rises up to meet me. I am present. I am here choosing what to take in and luxuriating in it. There is no humming refrigerator. There is no traffic. There is no tape of flaws playing on a loop. There is only now and me choosing my experience, quietly reminding myself that the choice is always mine.

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