For the better part of the past 2 years, my friend has been engaged in a major home renovation project. Actually, “embroiled” might be a more accurate term, given that, as often is the case in such undertakings, what could go wrong has gone wrong (and then some!), despite everyone’s best intentions and efforts. It has been an especially difficult period for my friend, who has very strong perfectionistic and OCD tendencies. To his credit, however, my friend learned important lessons along the way and when the time came for him to put what he deemed to be the most important piece of the puzzle in place (i.e., the surround sound system in his above-ground “Man Cave” a/k/a the family living room), he was ready! You see, my friend is a bit of audiophile. He not only has an intrinsic appreciation for the technical qualities of sound, he also understands the calming and restorative powers of music. In fact, most of my friend’s days end by his grabbing a glass of red wine and settling in on a sofa surrounded by one of his favorite tunes. That being the case, it probably will come as no surprise that he obsessed about every detail of the surround sound system that he now relies on to “deliver the goods.” Each speaker, receiver, equalizer, sub-woofer, CD deck, etc. was carefully selected and positioned to deliver the highest quality of sound currently available on the market – and, for the most part, he has been a noticeably happier person since it was installed.
All of which led me to realize on last night’s walk the many parallels between my friend’s home renovation project and the construction (or, as the case may be, “reconstruction”) projects that are ongoing in each of our daily lives. Because we are human, it is inevitable that, despite our best intentions and efforts, there will be times when our commitment to “being our own best friend” (http://tinyurl.com/knsybky) will periodically be interrupted by our natural hyper-critical tendencies. Our self-talk will cease to be kind and re-affirming and we will lose our ability to see ourselves clearly. Our efforts to “live out loud” (https://donblackwell.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/live-out-loud) will give way to our desire to withdraw, isolate and hold our emotions close. When that happens, it is essential that we have an “HQ surround sound” system of our own in place – a support team comprised of people who love us, who understand us, who want only what is best for us; people who appreciate the importance of and, on a moment’s notice, are capable of instilling an “opposite voice” (http://tinyurl.com/chewrwy); people we who we trust implicitly to draw us out of our silence and show us to ourselves, when our view of self has been obscured (http://tinyurl.com/a9tdsco). Like my friend, it is imperative that we do our research and choose these people carefully, while weeding out those who, due to selfishness or a track record of unreliability or indifference, have forfeited their right to hold such a cherished place in our lives.
Come to think of it, if I’m to be critical of anything about my friend’s handling of his home re-build, it would be his decision to wait until it was nearly complete before installing the piece that ultimately would matter most to him (i.e., his state-of-the-art HQ surround sound system). I can’t help but think that if he’d moved it to its rightful place (i.e., the top, rather than the bottom, of his “To Do” list), the ability to bathe in the soothing sounds of Carole King may have allowed the news that contractors had discovered a virtual army of Formosa termites slowly and silently consuming his house to go down just a little easier!