Controlling the Noise

Every morning there is a routine I follow. Get out of bed, pour a mug of coffee and a sippy cup of milk, turn the TV on for Alli, and immediately turn the volume down about twenty notches. It never ceases to amaze me how over the course of a single day the noise builds up in my head until my evening shows are blaring all around me. In the morning the television is quiet enough that I can hear the birds outside; in the evening I can’t hear a thing besides the latest drama of the Real Housewives of Wherever.

The volume slowly creeps up during the day. We raise it a little as big trucks roll through the neighborhood. We bump it up during a really good temper tantrum, and we pour it on while the neighbor mows his lawn. Slowly through the day it builds and builds until it’s blaring at us, and we don’t even know it.

I only notice in the quiet of the morning, a coffee mug in one hand and the remote control in the other.

This is kind of what deployment is like for me. I start each one fresh in the morning with a mug of patience and a cup of understanding. I can hear the chirping all around me, and it is beautiful. Then a rumor breaks out or an argument among friends. The volume goes up a touch. Then there’s an emergency, like say a busted knee, and everything gets cranked up another few notches. A week or two goes by without email? Bump bump bump. A few months with the kids, by myself? Groundings and tantrums and skipped chores?!? At that point, we pass mere volume and step directly into the crush of a full-on deployment ROAR!!!

The difference is that the real noise, the television volume, gets readjusted every single day. A good night’s sleep is all it takes to reset our ears back to quiet. The noise of a patrol can’t always be resolved so easily. Even after a good night’s sleep, the arguments are still there, the rumors still floating. The kids are probably still arguing, and my sailor still isn’t home. The noise will linger … if you let it.

I let the noise linger this week. I let it ruin nearly two whole days. I actually allowed it to steal my summer magic, and greater than the noise outside was my own internal noise, the noise of being frustrated with myself for not being able to let all the outside noise go. I needed a reset.

My reset has always been the ocean. Sitting in the warm sand, staring at the immensity of it all, my heart and mind realize the smallness of my “noise,” and my quiet and calm return to me. It is almost immediate, never failing, and completely healing.

I don’t have an ocean here. Not my ocean anyways. So I have to work a little harder to reset. I have to search for other quiet moments, seek out the water, and close my eyes and find the immensity inside me. Last night I saw a glimpse of it at an outdoor concert with a new friend while watching our children dance and play. It washed over me with the ebb and flow of the tide in a quiet, rocky inlet near my house. I dipped my hand in the water, and I woke up, yesterday’s noise behind me, still there but very small in the great expanse of everything.

It’s good to know your reset button. In fact, I think it’s vital to find that place or person or moment or memory that brings you back to peace and calm. It’s also important to know that a good reset doesn’t “fix” the noise, doesn’t stop the rumors or arguments, and certainly doesn’t bring email or your sailor back any faster. A good reset button merely reminds you that you are bigger than the noise, that you have the power to turn it down or let it rise. You can control it; you are the remote. You just have to find the right reset button.

So … what’s your reset button? Where do you find peace and calm in the noise?


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