It’s loud outside.

Lets face it…the volume of our cultural soundtrack is turned WAY up! 

It seems like everywhere I go there’s music playing in the background, or Tv’s blaring in the corners. 

Even in my favorite writing spot, a coffee shop in North Hollywood, I have to listen to MY music just to drown out the music they’re playing.

It’s getting a little out of control…  and the weirdest thing is that most of us are so used to it, we don’t even notice the noise.

We don’t notice the noise, that is, until it’s gone. 

I had to go all the way to Scotland to notice the noise.

It was a perfect, cold, moldy Scottish day along the shores of Loch Ness.  The fog was lifting from the Loch—no doubt revealing Nessie herself—and the three of us, father and sons, ducked into a local pub.  Like something out of a movie, this was the kind of place William Wallace fought to protect. 

The pub was around back of the  Benleva Hotel

The pub was around back of the Benleva Hotel

We walked in and were greeted by two pub dogs, a toothless regular, and a salty Scotsman tending bar. 

…but, I noticed it immediately. 

The quiet. 

There was no noise.  No soundtrack.  Just people, and the pitter patter of the pub dogs.

It was terrifying. 

I ordered a pint of the local brew, Adam, my brother, had a Balvenie, and Dad had a Glenfiddich.  Then we sat down, and didn’t say a word.

It was WILD, but the silence actually gave me the opportunity to listen to a person I rarely hear: ME.

At first, I was nervous.  I mean…I talk to myself all the time, but I rarely listen.

Frankly, I didn’t want to hear what I had to say to myself.

I didn’t want to hear that whisper begging me to heal the wounds, to ask forgiveness, to take the leap.  I didn’t want to hear the little voice that quietly encourages me to follow my dreams, to get up and go, or to stay put and persevere.

Sometimes, I’d rather hear overplayed auto tuned pop singers than listen to the quiet voice inside me reminding me of the man I want to become.

But, without the usual soundtrack blaring over my own voice, I had no choice.   So, I listened.  I sat quietly and listened to the person I ignore the most.  I listened to the person whose opinions I don’t always respect.  I listened to the person I don’t always like.  I listened to myself. 

And it made all the difference. 

I heard a gentle voice reminding me of the importance of service, of giving , and love for others.  I heard a creative voice that inspired me to write and to take pictures, and to create.  I heard a humble voice reminding me to be patient, forgiving, and always open. 

It wasn’t all easy to hear.  I had some difficult truths to tell myself, but it was all worth it.

It’s risky business listening to yourself.  What you hear may challenge you, inspire you, or even scare you.  You may hear things you don’t like; you may hear things that ask you to face long forgotten dreams.

But, whatever you hear, I can guarantee all it will do is change your life. 

So, turn off the radio. 

Mute the TV.

Turn off the soundtrack.

Take the risk and listen to yourself.

Even if you have to go to Scotland to do it.

Do you have any quiet time in your day?  Are there things you need to remind yourself of?  How high is the volume on your cultural soundtrack?