Stopping Time by Living in the Moment

Photo by Michael Competielle

The Quest

One summer my wife and I decided to take an extended weekend trip to the Town of Woodstock in Upstate New York. We had only a few sites we felt we needed to see and without real plans, we decided mostly wanted to connect with the stunning mountains while looking to relax and relieve some stress.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Heading upstate we stopped at Storm King for the Buddhist inspired Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition exhibit of hammered copper sculptures placed throughout the cleared grassy fields which then inspired our weekend of searching for enlightenment.

After arriving at our resort, we headed into Woodstock so become familiar with our new surroundings and plan our next few days excursions. The plan for the following morning was to hike to the top of the Overlook Mountain range.

The Adventure

Waking up early we stopped for breakfast before heading towards the trailhead. We had a hardy breakfast of Catskill Coffee, eggs with toast and tomato. Fueled for the hike we drove the last few miles to the trail base.

As we parked we happened to see the most serene Tibetan Buddhist Temple we had ever seen. With visiting hours starting in the early afternoon we had a goal to reach the mountain summit, meditate and then head back down to visit the monastery.

The trail was relatively clear with a steady incline. We set a good pace and climbed towards the summit. Midway up the mountain range was the abandoned stone skeletal remains of the Overlook Hotel. We explored the ruins, refueled and continued our climb.

The Goal

In the distance, we saw the landmark Catskill fire tower and knew we were close. As we walked into a final clearing we reached the Overlook. A rock outcropping that runs east to west that overlooks the Hudson River Valley below.

Photo by Michael Competielle

The two-hour uphill hike was vigorous yet calming and upon reaching the Overlook and seeing the beauty of the Hudson Valley was worth the effort. We sat on a huge rock outcropping and stared down into the Hudson Valley. Everything looked so small and peaceful as we felt like giants. After a few moments of rest and some photographs we decided it was time to head back down the trail, anxious to make it on time to the Monastery.

We began our descent with a bit more speed as gravity and familiarity were on our side the effort required was minimal. We talked about our love for nature, and our feeling of accomplishment and we reached the bottom of the trail.

The Reward

Photo by Michael Competielle

As we headed over to the sacred Tibetan Monastery we were immediately silenced by the prayer flags dancing in the slow mountain breeze. We passed the King of Mantras Auspicious Gateway and headed up a path towards the buildings as we saw Monks walking away from the Monastery heading to go have their afternoon lunch. It was perfect timing as the grounds were then open to visitors such as ourselves.

Our tour guide was a Woodstock resident for many years, an artist songwriter that volunteered as often as she could. Here volunteering offered her to not only help in the gift shop or provide tours but it also allowed her the ability to sneak into the temple for meditative mantras.

New Learnings

Our guide explained to us the history of Tibetan Buddhism and the basic teaching. She then began to explain how the Holiness 16th Karmapa had found and blessed the sacred land here in Woodstock for the building of the first Karma Kagyu monastery in the United States.

We learned of the years it took to build the Monastery and grounds, of famous visitors and about The Dalai Lama’s teaching in the Monastery.

Photo by Michael Competielle

I was glazed over at the wealth of information our guide had bestowed on us that day however one I’ll never forget was to live in the moment. As we entered the Main Shrine-room we had to remove our shoes and take a seat on a prayer cushion left behind by the monks who had just left the shrine. She guided us on how to assume a lotus position and some basic principles of meditation and prayer.

We were taught about Sutras and Mantras and quests for enlightenment. Various practices and rituals Monks and partitioners would partake of during retreat and teachings.

She continued the tour showing us the Courtyard, Meditation Platforms, Shrine rooms and we exited into the gift shop. Feeling mentally cleansed and emotionally connected I purchased my first set of Tibetan Mala Prayer Beads.

Enlightenment

As we said our goodbyes and left a small donation to our guide and the Monastery we left the grounds purified and enriched. Our visit was a springboard of research and selfhelp as I work daily to stay in the moment cherishing each experience. My attention to detail and recognition of my local surroundings has increased exponentially and my love for the earth and her creatures lives on.

For I am a Lotus

Photo by Michael Competielle

Warm mountainous air slowly fills my lungs, my heart beating slowly, my mind focused on my breathe. Slowly fragments of troubles evade me as I’m floating away. For I am a lotus, my petals to either side, my stamen erect, relaxed. 

Below me, the earthen rock formation is my foundation as I’m firmly planted at the summit of the mountain with breathe taking views…I breathe in slowly, my focus, my breath. 

Hawks circle me with curiosity. Am I their prey? I breathe in meditative prayer. For I am the master of my vessel, lovingly embracing my place in this world. My terrestrial being seeking enlightenment, a transcendence higher, higher. For I am a Lotus.

The deeper I breathe the higher I rise, feeling the quiet breeze cool me. Nutrients from the soil give me strength, the suns bright light fuels my soul. Enriched by my environment and the purity of the air.

Swaying slightly as I embrace the breeze, freeing to not feel rigid as I go with the flow. Sounds disappear along with the pressure I’d been feeing in my stem. Floating away as my deep concentrated breathe sending electrical impulses to my extremities.

I breathe in, I am one with my meditative spirit as I am a Lotus.

Your Writing Sucks

Why I Send Myself Hatemail

Photo by Michael Competielle

I’m not a writer but more of a storyteller. My style is based on my actual feeling and emotions and on my interpretation of the truth. For the most part, I’m writing how I speak and more realistically it’s how I think. I use the words love and hate often interchangeably based on my current mood and situation. The reality of the matter is I’m creative and therefore I take risks.

Creative People Traits

  1. easily bored
  2. risk takers
  3. color outside the lines
  4. think with their hearts
  5. make lots of mistakes
  6. hate the rules
  7. work independently
  8. change their mind alot
  9. have a reputation for being eccentric
  10. dream BIG

stolen from somewhere.

You never really know what version of me you’re going to get. My current thoughts and mood are plagued by my current emotions. I put passion into most everything I do and I’ll visualize myself doing things prior to making an attempt. If I can’t see myself doing something, generally I know I won’t partake.

Daily I try new things and need to find inspiration to get myself on board with my new experiences. I’ll try new things having visualized the outcome and honestly, it often doesn’t work. Many people wouldn’t notice or even care however my minds eye knows when I’ve gone astray.

Plenty of my creative endeavors have been pure trash, thrown by the wayside and discarded. My embarrassment and self-judgment often pollute my flow and produce feelings of anger and sadness.

The rules I follow are my heart and my gut instinct, the only emotions I know I can truly trust. Sounds can be lies, tastes can be poisoned and sights can be a mirage and only your inner voice will guide you to the truth.

I have a pure distaste for rules and restrictions. Asking my confidant, my minds eye if we can break them my inner voice always says absolutely.

Ironically for someone who doesn’t generally follow the rules, I have a lot of personal rules and you know what… I break those too.

The rule of thirds.

Ok, so I’m a Libra, which means I’m a scale and all about balance. Call it the rule of thirds such as hot, warm, cold or red, purple, blue. My favorite color is purple, I like my drinks warm or room temperature or evenly balanced. This is a basic guideline I generally don’t break and helps in my decision-making process.

I’m a Vegan based on three distinct different reasons, empathy to animals, environmental concerns and lastly diet. Politically I lean towards being a Progressive or Independent since I don’t fully align to the Left or the Right.

I like my day broken up into one-third work, one-third play and one-third rest. As much of my work is play and my play often work, my rest can get clouded with the other two thirds. Not a horrible situation to be in except when I’m questioning my abilities rest can become work.

Functioning as a sine wave I have my ups and downs. Deadlines and complexities are equalized by positive yardage and motion. As I envision the finish line and keep my mind’s eye on the prize I’ll internally battle the emotions and push myself towards completion. Sometimes the completion of a project, design or article yields a joyous feeling however just as frequently I land into a world of self-doubt and anticlimactic disgust.

Kind words and acceptance from others does not always work to convince the only actual quality I can trust which is my gut instincts.

As I may be self-deprecating and question my abilities and recognize my shortcoming what I don’t lack is confidence. Instinctually and with utmost confidence I can make decisions and continue to trudge forward. I can take criticism at face value and analyze the data to determine if I’m off the rails and need adjustment.

Photo by Buddha Joe

Honestly, I’m Living the Dream as I daily have the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone to try new experiences and my new mistakes. Somewhere between my two happy places which are the mountains and the beach is the equalized me. Writing, photographing, recording and creating. I’m my own harshest critic who aggressively doubting my abilities and qualifications. But the power of being creative I can recognize my shortcomings and push myself through my self-doubt and make myself proud.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/your-writing-sucks-6449d9d30057?source=friends_link&sk=205c90b32aaec9db0e054fcc8c9e3f08

Why I Always Publish My Drafts

Photo by Michael Competielle

As of late we are all writers in some capacity. Tweeting, Facebook posts, blog posts, text messages are all forms of creative writing and free expression. Often these are purely emotional outbursts of self expression based on how we feel at that exacting moment. It’s doubtful we should determine a persons moral fabric solely on a crappy Twitter post and probably excuse a statement we can’t align with.

Creative writing for an outlet such as Medium has allowed my posts to become expanded quite a bit further into short articles. Generally I’m basing my writing solely on my actual unabridged real life situations to emphasize my philosophy and creative process.

Currently I’m writing at an accelerated pace of an article per day with original photography. Sort of aggressive and masochist as I’m also working full time while still running my production company. It’s doubtful I’ll be able to continue this pace and still be able to write about interesting topics unless I make the effort to increase building additional unique experiences. My main goal is to challenge my own thoughts and beliefs.

Daily I’m expanding my world connections and finding my space within it. I never really have a completed concept or thought and so therefore I’m always evolving. Today’s dumb idea often yields tomorrow’s brilliance as I fine tune and dig closer.

My conscious thoughts intertwine with my subconscious to help define where I’m going and how I’ll get there.

. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”. Steve Jobs

My creative articles are snippets of content that will expand my style, vocabulary and help to find my voice. Currently my achievable goal is to complete 100 articles, with original photography. I’m well on my way and have already exceeded one third of the projects quota.

Looking back at the past 34 days of articles, there is some great content in my feed. My best work? Probably not but I’m finding my lane and I’m feeling I’ve had moments of inspiration and epiphany.

With my first book of 100 Haiku with original photos scheduled to be published in December, I’m excited to see the outcome and hope I’ve made enough writing fans to sell a few copies. Get rich scheme? Hardly. Actually it’s all a springboard for my 2020 projects.

I’m planning to start my second book on the Philosophy of visualizing, designing and building of projects and products. The narrative is based on my 25 plus years of hard core experience. Hardly a step by step guide on how I work and manage purely because I operate on emotion and gut instinct backed be years of actual scenarios.

These articles though self standing actually formulate the various chapters in my future text. Have I a plan to look back at these writing and borrow from them? I’m doubting it. Will I memorize specific topics or well written passages. I’m hoping so. Moral to this writing exercise is similar to publishing daily journaling entries. Exploring my concepts and solidifying them into text. I’m hoping it’s meeting my present criteria and personal challenges.

With simple goals of writing honestly, not modifying my titles, photos or content to pass thru Google or Mediums algorithms I’m publishing daily with the utmost confidence. The writing a culmination of my present mood I often feel it translates well into text.

Very little of what I do is polished nor perfect. I spend little to no time lamenting over underperforming articles based on false metrics. The greatest mark of accomplishment is relishing in the moment I’ve hit publish. My words and thoughts out there in the world and to be able to breathe and bask in the glory of moving one step closer to achieving my goals.

I’ve no real interests to go back and rewrite my drafts as you would never go back and edit your journal entry. The writing is snapshots of where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m headed. Dragging my typewriter and research material with me everywhere I go… my phone and my mind.

Michael Competielle

https://medium.com/swlh/why-i-always-publish-my-drafts-99126b46c2b2?source=friends_link&sk=5889068195e7af0339ff42990f78463b

Step Off the Path and Find Your Way

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

Today I had a interesting conversation with a friend who’s writer family member stated “If you aren’t weird no one will remember you.”

Honestly a great observation, possibly the statement could be expanded to odd, unique, creative amongst others however I’m feeling the point is you need to step off the path and find your way.

Daily I’ll awaken from my lucid dreams having resolved issues or found clarity in a design. My mind struggling to rest as I’m compartmentalizing projects and problems into little buckets that help me to think them through. Often working backwards from my anticipated outcome to each individual step and I’ll clearly see the starting point.

I’ve reprogrammed my brain and conscious thoughts to logically follow potential pathways like following traces on a circuit board. More often than not this generally brings me uniquely to a similar solution that isn’t unique to me.

Photos by Michael Competielle

It’s often then in that moment when I’m feeling my solution or concept isn’t original or unique enough I’ll decide to find my own way.

By stepping of the beaten path.

Now I must warn you that you’ll need to be very careful. I’ve stepped off the beaten path and found myself in rabbit-holes like in Alice and Wonderland. My mind will expand and possibilities become endless however I can get lost. That’s why I’ll try to follow some basic rules by keeping my meandering in perspective.


Guitarist Adrian Belew formerly of King Crimson has worked with Trent Reznor on three Nine Inch Nails albums. Working with Trent who is in industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails is an experimental artists dream as Trent records in non conventional techniques.

Well, I’ve done three records with Trent now, and all three have been alike: I walk in the door, get my equipment working properly, and he starts playing me pieces of music. He’ll say, “If you find something you want to play, stop us and we’ll record you.” [laughs] It’s usually easy for me to find something to play in his material. It really fits my styles — my sounds and the things I like to do — very well. When you play with Trent Reznor, you don’t want to pull out your normal things; you go do the most extreme things that you can. It’s a lot of fun, because it puts me on the spot to do what I really love to do, which is be creative with the guitar. The sky’s the limit. Nobody is saying “No! No! No!” Everyone is saying, “Yes!”

I really enjoy working with Trent, because it gives me that type of freedom. In a way, it’s the same kind of freedom that I had working with David Bowie. He was also very encouraging, asking me to do more wild things. The same was true with the Talking Heads. Trent Reznor is, to me, a major inspiration in the world of production. I really like the way that his records sound. I’m always keeping my eyes open on the process, so I can maybe learn something. Adrian Belew

With a floor full of guitar effects pedals that generally function in an unwritten sequence, Trent and crew would reverse directions of effects and their linear sequence in an attempt to find something new.

My latest creative endeavors have been working on some unique recording and sound writing projects with Cities and Memories by reimagining sounds into new creative assemblies. It’s as wild experience that forces me to think outside the box and experiment. My creativity has expanded exponentially as my work product increases.

In some ways I’m consistent and in others I’m finding new experiences such as never driving the same way twice or refusing to make predetermined plans. Not following rules is exciting and creates new pathways and connections.

By stepping off the normal path I’m finding creative ways to express myself. Objects and places have morphed into inspiration that guides me into experimental experiences. My path no longer known I find comfort and solace in discovery.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/step-off-the-path-and-find-your-way-96242bed5ded?source=friends_link&sk=791215ba1c963ea0e65f1aa658a5c659

Taking Pause During the Passage of Time

Photo by Michael Competielle

The season is changing, maybe a bit more gradually than in past seasons however it’s still inevitably happening. The days are getting noticeably shorter as the temperature doesn’t rise quite as it has. The trees are shifting color into lovely autumn hues. The slow conversion into winters hibernation.

The sounds of the winds change as the whistling through green leaves is replaced with a distinctive different tone of rustling through autumn foliage. Footsteps crunching sounds alarm wildlife as we head into the forest.

Large flocks of birds flutter across the grey sky in a pattern like a squadron of jet fighters. Squirrels nesting away their winters stock of acorns cleaning the forest floor. Deer cautiously drinking from the cooling streams.

As we slowly and silently escape into the forest the rules of our trek is not to speak a word. Our objective is to use all of our senses to enter a meditative mindful state while preserving the serenity of the woodlands.

Armed with headphones attached to field recorders, we monitor our surroundings as we attempt a stealthily silence. Man made noise pollutes our recordings as in the far distance we can hear leaf blowers and highway traffic.

Seated comfortably on the ground we become one with the earth. The wind blows and trees branches sway above us like choreographed freestyle dancers. We breathe in deeply and smell the fresh pungent air.

Closing our eyes we fine tune our ears listening to the forests sounds anticipating motions in the trees. As our focused listening moves through the individual sounds we hear the forested orchestrated instrumentation’s. Distant human made sounds become more evident than ever while we now struggle to filter them out.

The forest floor reminiscent of a large hand knitted Persian rug embedded with a seasons worth of dander. We pause time as we find full immersion.

As we leave the forest our concentration is focused and our respect for the environment, our hearing cleansed.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/taking-pause-during-the-passage-of-time-9438899b0fb1?source=friends_link&sk=5b5d90f6eb1de0f103bf7bcbac1d8527

The Soul of a Tree is the Secret to Life

Photo by Michael Competielle

A slight breeze blows through the forests upper canopy as the foliage uniformly dances to her breath. The crunch of decaying leaves that have fallen to rejuvenate the earthen soil. The forests ecosystem is home to flora, insects, birds, owls and deer.

Fall is coming and the leaves are changing into vibrant colors like a evening campfire. Birds singing as they fly branch to branch looking for the days meal.

Finding a rock in which I can sit down I quietly reach for the record button as I monitor the forests sounds thru my headphones. Bird song and cool breeze… so peaceful and serene. I begin to slip into a meditative state of Mindfulness as I’m completely immersed in the present moment, the worlds distractions are distant.

Looking at each tree as a unique living being I begin to think about teh miracle of the forests existence. The foliage protecting the habitat below providing a natural cooling effect. Some trees live a beautiful life as they grow in a perfect fertile environment stretching tall to capture the sun rays to synthesize carbon dioxide into oxygen.

I slowly breathe in… hold… and breathe out the rich forest air.

My mind begins to wander as my thoughts focus on our current environmental issues we are creating through deforestation. In the Amazon alone we have lost 17 percent of the forest in the last 50 years. Entire species of animals extinct from the removal of their habitat to make room for developments and farms.

Forest woods are used for furniture, building materials, fuel, paper and packing materials. Trees produce fruits, nuts, rubber and maple syrup that can be extracted without destruction to the tree. Carefully removing a tree from a forest is not an issue as a seedling can be planted in its place and the circle of life continues.

Trees are the ultimate renewable resource while the removal of an entire forest is not.

Simply put, we cannot survive on this planet without forests. In a sense, they breathe for the Earth, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and producing the oxygen we require in return. And by storing that carbon, forests help to regulate the global climate, absorbing nearly 40 percent of the fossil-fuel emissions we humans preoduce. Rainforest Alliance

Photo by Jennifer Competielle

Coming from a family of cabinetmakers for generations, I’ve been around wood and woodworking tools my entire life. Cutting and shaping trees into cabinetry, moldings, structures and trinkets. I savor my scraps reusing them as blocking, shims or dunnage until I’m down to the smallest piece I feel comfortable to discard.

Feeling a tree shouldn’t be killed without responsibly using its resources for making sustainable and renewable products.I’ve always tried to get the most use I could out of the woods.

It wasn’t until I happened to visit the wood shop of Master furniture builder George Nakashima that I began to understand that trees have a soul. A unique life form that needs to be recognized and understood.

As I toured the showroom, wood storage and shop I began to realize the philosophy utilized in the creation of Nakashima’s works. Each piece of wood is carefully chosen to determine how it will be shaped and tooled into a new unique existence.

In the true Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi, the natural characteristics and flaws are accentuated, often where slpits in the wood are locked from further splited with butterfly joints.

Photo by Michael Competielle

I purchased a copy of George’s manifesto The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworkers Reflections which I had George’s daughter Mira, who now runs the business carrying on the Nakashima legacy, sign my book.With a deep philosophical understanding that the respectful use of a trees woods gives the tree renewed life and purpose. I learned to honor the trees soul.

When trees mature, it is fair and moral that they are cut for man’s use, as they would soon decay and return to the earth. Trees have a yearning to live again, perhaps to provide the beauty, strength and utility to serve man, even to become and object of great artistic worth.

George Nakashima

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/the-soul-of-a-tree-is-the-secret-to-life-7aefb63537ff?source=friends_link&sk=e8137b8d17f7e2b35f2b499591a1d5fa

Near Distant Goals and How to Achieve Them

Envisioning an Ideal Future

Photo by Michael Competielle

A little over a year ago I was lucky enough to take a mindfulness course created by Google called SIYLI. Developed by a team of experts to integrate mindfulness, emotional intelligence and neuroscience the course has been used within Google as well as globally by governments, corporations and non-profits.

In a small lecture room environment seated in office chairs positioned into a semicircle my coworkers and I began the coursework. After a brief explanation of the core principals of SIYLI we were told to obtain a comfortable seated position and began deep breathing exercises while focusing intently on the breath.

Meditation

Slowly breathing in I felt a rush of oxygen fueled breath into my lungs with a tingling euphoric feeling. Holding my breath slightly I focused on my breath as I slowly exhaled. Again I slowly took in another controlled deep breath settling on full concentration as I felt the rush. Again exhaling with full focus and control I began to feel calmness and control.

While maintaining my controlled breathing exercises my mind clear and centered. Uncertain if I was falling asleep or entering into a transformative state, my stress and racing mind slowly subsided.

A metallic ring of a small brass bell broke our concentration as we were asked to regain focus with the instructor and explain our response to the meditation exercise. It seemed unanimous across the class that this exercise heightened levels of focus and clarity.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Journaling

We then began a method of meditation called journaling. Opening to a blank sheet of paper in a notebook we were guided to begin journaling our thoughts in a 5 minute timed exercise. Our writing was to be based on how we felt at that moment in a mindful honest written form. It was promised that these writing wouldn’t be read by anyone. Our instructor range the bell and we laid down our pens.

He asked us to reread what we wrote and asked how we felt after the 5 minutes writing. It was an enlightening experience as I learned how I was feeling personally after an extremely stressful year.

Ideal Future

Our next exercise was an honesty writing exercise where you wrote about our ideal future. It was another timed writing practice in which we had 5 minutes. I saw my Dream Future unfolding in written form materializing before my eyes. Immersed in my narrative the bing of the bell stopped my writing.

Completely amazed at what I had written down I was very proud. Imagine that future. The instructor broke us up into groups and told us we needed to tell people about our Ideal Future.

Telling people about your plans so they can materialize

Exchanging our ideal future ideas was relieving. As we discussed our future plans it became a bit more real.

Our instructor explained as you discuss with people about your future ideals situations start to become reality. The response of people with help and resource creates opportunities to let aspects of your Ideal Future become reality.

Everyday I’m working towards my future ideal, writing daily articles, brainstorming ideas for a new startup venture, editing feature films and some web series. New options are constantly moving me closer to my ideals.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/near-distant-goals-and-how-to-achieve-them-138c70440230?source=friends_link&sk=b537b7f42302cfdd9ba198f3f530cbb7

Forest Therapy And My Quest For A Quiet Place

Photo by Michael Competielle

The Japanese practice of Forest Therapy is called Shinrin-Yoku which means “taking in the forests atmosphere.” Quite simply the process is to just head into the forest and that’s about it. Well that’s sort of a generalization of the actual philosophy where you can shed stress and anxiety by spending time with nature by trekking through the woods, engrossing yourself in the silent ecosystem.

Forest Therapy or Forest Bathing is used to embrace nature and to enhance wellness and happiness. Heading into a forest and focusing on being present in the silence while engaging in deep breathing, recognizing smells and sounds can be healthy and therapeutic.


A few years ago as I was researching field recording I stumbled onto a sound course offered through Princeton University called Space and Place. I messaged the Professor to see if I could audit the course although the semester was winding down and his Princeton Arts Fellow nearing an end he was kind enough to share with me the syllabus.

I quickly purchased every book mentioned in the syllabus and proceeded to read every referenced website and article. One particularly interesting piece was on Chris Watson of the 80’s Industrial/Post Punk band Cabaret Voltaire who had since entered into wildlife field recording. Upon reading an articleon his techniques, I realized he and I had similarities in equipment I decided to try some forest field recordings.

As I began to repurpose my film audio-recording equipment and expand my collection of specialty field recording gear with some new purchases I headed off into the woods. Wearing my Kuhl Silencer pants, Merrell hiking boots, Tilley and sound recording gear I headed into the forest. Uncertain of what my expectations actually were and primarily hoping for a clean, noise free forest ambience recording I found a quiet remote location and grabbed a seat on a rock under a dense canopy of trees.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Putting on my headphones and hitting record I silently listened to the sounds of the forest. With a cool summer breeze calmly making the forests vegetation dance like a ballerina and strained to listen for the sound of the forests wildlife. What I heard while focusing was the distant sound of the outside world. Planes, lawnmowers and the distant highway spoiled my recordings.

Calmly I continued to record hoping the noise pollution would stop. The distant persistent noise droned on however as an hour had passed however I was feeling focused, calm and relaxed. The experience, alone in the forest was meditative as I was focused on my environment fully mindful and present.

My recording was essentially trash, ruined by the environmental noise pollution of the suburban forest. I Googled “field recording quiet places” in a feeble attempt to find a quiet place to record nearby my Princeton area home.


“SILENCE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING,

BUT THE PRESENCE OF EVERYTHING.”

-Gordon Hempton, Founder

One Square Inch of Silence

My research lead me to the Audio Ecologist Gordon Hempton know for his nature recordings on 6 different continents while on an endless quest searching for One Square Inch of Silence.

In 2005 Gordon Hempton while recording in the Hoh Rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Park, one of the quietest places in the world, he placed a rock on a log claiming it to be One Square Inch of Silence. Hempton defines silence as lacking in human created noise pollution.

For years Hempton has monitored his One Square Inch of Silence often having to inform noise polluters of there noise pollution and writing the offenders letters along with recordings hoping to obtain their support in creating less pollution.

Gordon’s One Square Inch website deeper explains the environmental concerns and educates in an attempt to raise awareness and maintain the silence.

While I have yet to visit Hoh Rainforest or find any location free of noise pollution, my forest therapy continues.

With today being the first day of fall the colorful foliage is about to change. I visualize the sounds of leaves falling and the crunching sound as I walk to a suitable recording spot. Hoping to immerse myself mindfully in the forests serenity.The Startup

https://medium.com/swlh/forest-therapy-and-my-quest-for-a-quiet-place-1c4804eb05f2?source=friends_link&sk=1fe5da5775f23a27e6674dd7bbfb8384

Honestly….I’m Living the Dream

My daily rituals on how to live a fulfilled life.

too by Michael Competielle

An attorney friend of mine years ago expanded my thoughts on perspective. I’d often ask how his day had been knowing hours earlier he had a rough time in trial court. Ironically he would respond with a smile “I’ve never had a bad day”.

I’d ask myself how could that be? Certainly he had a client that equally had a rough day in court, possibly a motion not accepted or expert testimony that failed to provide the definitive evidence required to win the case. However he never let those issues adjust his feeling and perspective for his day.

With the mindset of an artist I learned to change perspective. Moving my visual camera and reframing the mental picture of the entire situation I began to recognize that fine tuning into one specify issue or troublesome event in your day should generally only be a temporary setback. Reevaluating the situation and obtaining an alternative perspective can often change the emotion of the situation allowing your vision and focus to clarify. My corporate job had extinguished my creative spark and fogged my perspective.


It was at that exacting moment I decided I’d try Living the Dream

My decision allowed me to re-evaluate my life, relationships, goals and objectives and then refocus on my dreams. I decided to signup for filmmaking classes at NYU, travel more, examine my spirituality and quit my high paying corporate New York City job.

Leaving piles of money on the table and moving my 401k into a Fidelity account I moved towards my dreams as I took a local job in a similar industry. Ironically cutting my salary almost in half didn’t make me sad so why would doubling it make me happy? Perspective. Not suggesting that money is the route of all evil however I’ve determined that the requirements and sacrifices required to earn a high paying corporate salary isn’t worth the stress, aggravation and the loss of perspective.

Quitting my NYC job opened up my daily schedule to drive my kids to school, make breakfast with lattes and meditate. Moments became mine as I reclaimed my life and creativity. On a daily basis I work on personal development by practicing mindfulness, filmmaking, design and creative writing. Experimenting with a vegetarian diet and eventually a vegan lifestyle, I’ve increased my health and most importantly my mindset.

I still get stressed and even pissed off however generally the emotions are temporary as the feeling quickly rolls off like water off a ducks back. My compassion and empathy has increased for people that fit within the model of my dream and I’ve moved on from the toxic ones.

Situations in which I cannot control the outcome nor push out of my life I accept and and modify my perspective.

Photo by Michael Competielle

With a clear perspective of living in the moment I’ve taken the time to examine the world around me. Listening and recording birds, observing flowers blooming and climbing rock outcropping I’ve learned to love how beautiful nature truly is.

Heading to the beach I love to admire the oceans smells and hard pondering splash sounds of white noise as powerful curling funnel waves hit rocky jetties. Seagulls gliding in the slow oceans breeze economizing the frequency of their wings flutter.

On any given day I’ve been known to respond to pleasant greetings with “I’m Living the Dream”. A daily ritual that keeps my mind and body in perspective.

https://medium.com/@mcompetielle/honestly-im-living-the-dream-87fb21d5b7d6?source=friends_link&sk=bf430fd39e89e3ea3989ffc16360476b