How Do You Adjust the Volume?

Are you old enough to remember a time when you could walk into someone else’s home and know instinctively how to turn on the television?

In the really old days, there was a fairly universal process that included an on-off button and a dial to turn channels. As the march of progress continued, there was a single remote to operate the equipment. And then, over time, things started to evolve into more complicated scenarios that vary among homes.

I bought a new TV not long ago. I kept it in the box a couple of days just to get myself ready for the next step. I’d already done the part about “buy the TV, bring it home.” So I gave myself kudos for that forward-moving action. Then I waited it out till the weekend as I built the courage to open the box. Because what happens after the box is open will take time, and I felt some anxiety about whether I would know what to do from there.

Good news: I got it done. Or mostly done. These things come with a map that shows you what goes where. Then, it can figure things out for you – telling you, “enter this code in a browser,” and suddenly it does just what you need it to do.

So I was done. Except for the one thing I could not figure out: how to adjust the volume.

Maybe there were studies done on the best method of volume adjustment, and the results determined that the front of the remote was no longer optimum. Or, more likely, that button got displaced by the Neflix and Hulu buttons, and designers had to find someplace else. If I’d known I was going to write on this topic, I would have recorded the steps I took to figure this out. I don’t remember, but I eventually did find my way. The volume button is not on the front of the remote, but on the side.

“Oh,” I said to myself upon making this discovery, “there it is.” I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out. It just did.

Volume is a word with multiple applications – for example, you can use it in the sense of “how much” or in the sense of “how loud.” You can also use it if you’re naming a series of publications. Volume 1, Volume 2 and so forth.

I suppose the word “adjust” could fit that latter use – you can adjust Volume 1, theoretically, if you redo how it is placed in your bookcase. Or if you’ve got a jug of water, you could adjust how much is in the container. But “adjust” best fits that “how loud” use. Some things are too quiet or too loud, and the volume needs adjustment.

Like with your words. If you’re talking in a noisy room or giving a presentation, you’ll have to raise the volume. But they say – or, this is something I’ve always heard – that your actions will speak louder than your words. In this theory, if your words give voice to your thoughts, your actions are the microphone.

Maybe so. But I think we all know that there are areas where this saying, shall we say, doesn’t hold water.

Actions speak louder than words – yes. But words linger longer, seeping into your spirit for good or ill. Words get replayed, restated, relived – happily on good days, but the negative ones probably get more inner air time.

Actions speak louder than words, but why assume louder has more impact and who ever said a word isn’t an action? I’ve been in a noisy room before, and I’ve left unchanged by the experience. But I’ve also been in a place where quieter words were spoken to me – for good or ill – and I’ve left altered in some way. Haven’t you?

I think the idea behind this idea of “actions speak louder than words” is: “do what you say you’ll do.” Or “don’t lie.” So, yes, don’t lie. Good idea. But also speak life into the world and into the people you care about. Including yourself.

Seems to me, an awful lot of criticism that goes out into the world starts within. There’s a verse I’ve read often:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:9-10 (NIV)

About that “pointing finger and malicious talk,” I used to assume that means what we say about others. Then I realized that it can also be applicable to how we talk to ourselves.

So, if you find yourself fussing today about the things you need to do, haven’t done, or areas where you are falling short, how about quietening that down a bit. Remember that the volume button is in your hand. Speak gently to yourself and enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 6