Taking Steps Forward And Leaving Your Fears Behind

Photo by Michael Competielle

How do we determine if something is alive? “Is it moving?” “Is it breathing” in that fearful curiosity voice we all had as a kid. If we are moving are we dying or dead?

One of my many vocations is I’m a Sound Designer and Editor. I edit, clean and create sounds to extend the suspension of disbelief in a motion picture. The irony is if it’s not moving, it doesn’t make a sound. It feels odd and unsettling to add sound to objects that aren’t moving on the screen. Add some movement and we open the possibility to add an effect, no matter how slight to accentuate the movement.

As we age many of us slow down, our movement reduced as we tire or lack desire. There is a sense of safety not leaving our warm beds and cozy couches. The evil and fearful world outside our safety zone. What lurks in the dark? 

In a horror film, it’s an evil monster or a possessed spirit. Both amazing possibilities for sound design yet horrible excuses to not step outside. That evil monster is our fears. Fear of being judged. A fear of taking risks. 

Some mornings I awaken in fear, possibly from a bad dream or an unsettled issue I need to resolve. My heart rate will rise and anxieties will slowly creep in like the dark damp fog in a supernatural film. 

But what do I know that others may not? I’m comfortable here, in my fears. Why? Because I’ve been here before. In the dark alone and scared. When I stay frozen in the fear, it lurks towards me, it’s coldness surrounding me like a plague. If I breath easy and control my breath my chances of survival increase. You can’t die if your breathing right?

With each controlled breath I feel a calming overcome my body and mind and my fears, they may still be there but I slowly step away. The sound of my footsteps i hardly heard. 

Once I reach my point of safety many steps away, I can breathe easier, as my confidence returns. I’ve chosen to live and not have my fears strangle my movement.


So now let’s just image your struggling with life. Breathing in and addressing your fears have you petrified within your own existence. What happens? Fears lead to anxieties and anxieties can lead to depression. And there you are, motionless and probably not even recognizing you are actually breathing. 

Generally breathing is an autonomous bodily function however once fear and stress enter the equation we can have difficulty breathing. We then must manually control our breath to work ourselves out of the situation and return to normalcy. 

By recognizing our breath and rhythm we can control our emotions and regain control allowing our body to take back over.


So let’s imagine we have an interest in mountain climbing. The thoughts of the amazing mountain summit fuel our desires and we encourage ourself to the experience. But then that voice steps in, the voice of reason? Hardly, it’s that voice of fear. Everything that can go wrong will. What if I lose my footing and fall? What if the oxygen isn’t enough? What if I get tired?

Excuses we make to not have to face our fears. The fear of failure or falling or whatever can happen walking from your warm bed to the toilet. These are all excuses we make to not face the fear.

In our fear movie, our protagonist is afraid of heights, afraid of leaving the house, afraid of falling. Yet we are all rooting for this character, an audience of hundreds watching, hold their breath as our character takes steps to overcome the fear.

We suit-up in our hiking boots and shorts, pack our sack and head outside. Slowly at first, we may walk the neighborhood to feel comfortable with our pack, evaluating our energy levels, water consumption, and feelings in our body.

The first day we may feel tired or unsteady. If we stop at the first signs of struggle, we are right back where we started. Nowhere. Yet if we embrace our pains and laugh out our fears, every step and every breath will increase in strength in selfconfidence.

So our protagonist trains daily for her upcoming trek. Fears still exist as they never actually go away, we only leave them behind as we move forward. With each confident step forward our fears are left behind watching us take each confident step.

In our fear movie, if we wanted to show the confidence of our protagonist the camera would follow the character. The scene on the screen would be a shot requiring camera movement. This movement is the same movement of our character as we are as one.

However, if we care to show that our character is triumphant, we will leave the camera stationary as our protagonist moves away and leaves her fears behind. 

Getting up and facing our fears and with confidence walking away is the strongest lesson I’ve learned in self-improvement. Controlling my breath and emotion is still a challenge yet what I seek is the comfort in knowing that I’m confident enough to take on risks, try new things and make movement my goal.

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.

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