The Volume of Life

Endless Mixing Boards

The human body produces and gives off light. The impeachment investigation, Plato, generational frictions, belief systems and times of change… They are all trying to write their stories at the same time. The quantum like conundrum of letting it all cook until something is ready to come out of the mental oven. The eighteen drafts are getting worked, The trappings of a creative mind; In the same vein though, a nod to those parts of life that get thicker, a little noisier in the head. The headphones are under constant adjustment, the volume of life enough to puncture your ear drums and leave you deaf. This is not always an exercise in apathy, as it is a means of survival.

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The political news is enough to make someone like myself want to react with all manner of opinionated content. But that wouldn’t allow me the opportunity to observe it all as closely. The changing times and the generational angst and frictions are being thrown around as weapons too, something difficult to take in as well. Belief systems, and humanity’s mannerisms are clashing at every stretch and bit of growth. I am getting older and a lot of my life has changed. In my small life a neighbors dog was as close to me as anyone, and I am more devastated at her passing than a non-owner should be. My wife’s job is harming her health, and I cannot find worth beyond a few crafts and art pieces that friends ask for. I question if it’s charity or pity? Either way it keeps me occupied. These are just a few of my knobs on my mixing board, my volume adjustments that are bubbling up near the top. I don’t even want to delve into the other knobs, the ones that I don’t know what it really does, but I don’t think I should touch it. Or the ones in which I know what job they perform, and I definitely know I shouldn’t touch them.

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Everyone has their own volumes, knobs, and mixing boards that they utilize to get through life. A multi-faceted application of sticking your fingers in your ears and humming a tune. Sometimes you realize you are doing it, and sometimes… Not so much. When those times of life get a bit thicker, when the issues have issues, and getting through the day is an exercise in just keeping it all together long enough… Those volume adjustments; Those ones that either make things louder or quieter in your thinking, your thought processes and your worries; Look like mixing boards with thousands of knobs that we don’t know how to work, slides that don’t seem to do anything, and buttons that light up when we get signals crossed. It’s hard to make music when the time that you do have is all about cancelling out the noise.

In this world we live in, We have an inexhaustible supply of inputs, distractions, information and disinformation. We have more escape routes from reality, more venues for getting away from it all, and more prescriptions to change your mind than any other time. We also have more hoops to jump through, more social and societal expectations to manage than ever before, and more labels and other minutiae to navigate. The layers of society are countless, and the different tracks immense. Those mixing boards are tough to utilize at times, the inputs too much, and the na-na-na humming over the thoughts begins. Some are able to turn it all down, quiet it down almost completely, others can’t do that if they tried, and the vast majority lying somewhere between those two ends.

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I can’t tell you how many times in my life that I have heard someone say, “I don’t wanna hear it.” That statement is just the overt and obvious example of “I’m turning the knob down, hitting the kill switch.” Most of the time though, the volume adjustments and blinking lights aren’t something we feel or notice. Those adjustments are the almost silent kind, the ones we don’t notice because that knob or that lever is always adjusted along the way. Those lights always turn on when I get this input or that one… Built in ignorance switches, or belief managers, partisan sound generators, and sensibility stabilizers… Yes, we are all engineers of our own making, good, bad, and indifferent… All at the same time.

In stress management, anxiety treatments, and manners to fight depression, the need for exercise, to smile and laugh, to get social support, and to meditate, are high on many of the lists. They are forms of learning how to use those mixing boards. They all tell you something about your buttons and crossed circuits, the sounds that are out of tune, and the melodies that seem to work well. After a while of looking at the whole set up though, the smaller functions and the mini-boards that may have been overlooked appear. Either a disguised function of the reptilian brain, or the super id of the cerebral cortex. Like breathing and thinking, these boards work all the time, or barely at all, unless we actively alter the knobs and buttons. They are also the ones that create scratches on the master track, and within the engineer… us. We don’t always know how to get the sound fixed, so we simply adjust another one to compensate.

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The reason these subsystems are noticeable is because of the practices I have been compiling, using all of the other, larger boards. With all of these stories trying to write themselves out in my mental warehouse, I had to engage in actively tuning, and turning things down. In the case of my Football team, I had to unplug the thing altogether to stop it from making annoying sounds. Yet, even unplugged and sitting in the corner, the knobs and levers of the mini-mixing boards are still powered up and just waiting for me to plug something in, connect them up to something again, so that the scratching can continue. Angst, expectations, fair play… Yes, those are the mini-boards that are still powered up about my team, and their play. The na-na-na and humming going on as I try to tell myself it’s just a game, you don’t win them all, and things aren’t always fair. I unplugged the board, so which voice in my head has won out so far? Good, bad, indifferent, and self-serving.

Another reason these miniature mixing boards are showing up is because of life itself. The noticed changes in the people and world around you as you march through this little bit of eternity. Family members whom you haven’t seen in years, people that have either shared their life or locked it away from you. The understanding of these things will never come, but they all have mixing boards and their small counterparts working away on those answers. With time the track speed decreases, the dead air a little more pronounced, and the need for turning up some basic functions mandatory. At the same time curious if this is just time itself passing, or a form of deafness of sensibilities? I have lived long enough to have plenty of malformation of my sensibilities while humming a tune.

@pixabay

As much as those larger boards are usually the pieces of equipment we have little to no choice over using, Sex, age, race. They are also the machines that contain the other things in life that are more adjustable. The other parts of things we argue and fight over, political ideologies, religious beliefs, and perceived history. The bigger boards are almost easier to turn all the way up, or down, but real adjustments are difficult and confounding because we don’t always know that the mini-boards are plugged into more than one larger one, and adjusting that knob completely throws another larger board off kilter. The practicing of these things, the turning and tuning out of inputs and outputs in my own life has made this apparent. The throes of a self in search of meaning, after finding the definitions of life unfinished.

In that first paragraph I also mentioned Plato. It is part of that belief system thinking, my own systems, and their habits of pulling a lot of various pieces of the din that seem to work together. It’s like using rocks as an instrument, being played with marbles, and including a lot of rattling. But in this journey of life, and the sentiments of it, a place to point out that like Plato, and those philosophers and prophets that came before and after, this belief business thing has been building something for a long time. The mixing boards have been around all along, and those mini-boards are places where we have deeper connections to our fellow human beings. Plato reminds me that as much as I would like to believe that I have a belief system, I may more be following systems of hope? Ones that allows me to notice, and ponder, and possibly help others manage, the volume of life.

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