Resonate on the bright side.

Samantha touches a Mandolin for the first time.  And begins to resonate.
Samantha touches a Mandolin for the first time. And begins to resonate.

-to produce or be filled with a deep, full reverberating sound.

We hear about all the ripple effects, don’t we? We hear the gossip and the drama. We as humans seem to love drama. Drama and blame.

I have a theory about that. The theory goes that we tend to take the wide path and blame is easier than facing reality.

To truly hate is a full time job. With no vacation. No benefits. No pay. No retirement.

But to truly love is all vacation, all pay, all benefits and full retirement.

As I said, we as people tend to remember the ripple effects of the bad. But that’s because we look for them, in the media and on the roadside. But how often do we perpetuate the good? How often do we call a friend and pass on news that gives hope and empowerment?

Less than we should. Less, because we reach out in need more often than we reach out in giving. And celebrating others’ failures is an easy way to pat ourselves on the back for mediocrity.

At some point we should all realize that strength is not derived from celebrating failure. It is derived from our limits being re-defined.

When we are growing up, we fail at things. As adults, we will continue to fail at things, but mostly we will fail people. We don’t mean to, but we do. When those failures come, we are labeled. By the world, yes. But more importantly, by ourselves. When we label ourselves, we build a fence around us. A perimeter, if you will, defined mostly by what we think suits us best, or what others think of us.

Now let’s combine these elements.

1. People love to talk about other people.
2. We are fenced in by opinions we accept for ourselves.

When we accept those opinions, regardless of the source, they go from someone’s opinion to something very real. A play in action. A fact. A conclusion in our lives.

And so the framework of our playground is constructed. Programming, if you will, for enjoyment and worth.

At 36 years old, I have become interested in music. I did not believe I could play a stringed instrument. I was wrong. I am glad I can admit to being wrong. Because admitting that set me free to play. I am enjoying the struggle of learning a great deal. What strikes me about music is this: A novice like me, with no experience, can strike a chord. A beautiful chord that resonates. A millionaire musician can sit down with the same instrument and strike the same chord. The sound will be exactly the same. Exactly.

Therefore I can play. Just as anyone can, who is willing to strike that very same chord and embrace that fact that on a very basic level. They are indeed playing and have already taken that first step.

A C is a C. An A is an A. Regardless of whose fingers strums the strings.

We are all capable of doing something beautiful. Even if we have limited ourselves and believe that we cannot make music, that doesn’t stop any of us from learning to strum one single chord that resonates perfectly.

Think about that… if you were to sit someone at a piano, someone who “has no musical talent” and tell them to push one single key…

The sound would be beautiful, in its own right. The sound would resonate and carry to all those within earshot.

If you were to ask them to play a few more keys, and they did, someone walking by, outside may hear those sounds. They may think to themselves, “Someone is practicing the piano in there. I wish I could do that… maybe I will.”

Meanwhile the one pressing the keys is clueless as to how much impact those keystrokes have. The fact is, the mere sound of that struggling rhythm and laboring practice becomes inspiration to those walking by. Those who may fear failure.

I dare say failing gracefully and continuing with determination is a far more beautiful thing than accomplishing a mediocre goal with great efficiency.

Our acts resonate beyond earshot. Just like news of bad car crashes and drama, good news follows the same path.

An off-key sound will resonate with an awful effect and memory, yes. But a single perfect note will carry just as far. And just because the bright keys don’t make the newscast does not make them any less powerful.

Inspiration happens in the moment it is perceived. Not the moment it is spoken or printed or photographed. Inspiration happens when we let it under our skin and believe in something beyond our limits.

When we take the first step up a mountain, we have already attained the experience of someone who “hiked up that mountain,” no matter how slight our actual gain in elevation.

It matters little whether we summit the peak. What matters is that we cleared a small path of possibility, in a forest of doubt.

Sailing the Arctic.  Because I just kept stepping forward.
Sailing the Arctic. Because I just kept stepping forward.

When we chase our dreams down, it is best if the dream is well beyond the limits of our personal comfort. It is good for our fellow man, to watch us scratch at the muddy hill, as we claw our way forward, smiling at the rain and thunder. Because they see that the smile is real and catch a glimpse of joy, in the midst of struggle.

It is good to just sit and realize that we can all play some sort of good sound in this world. And as we practice our good sound, more will come. We will play bad notes and some will say we are bad musicians. But the more we seek accuracy and joy, the less often we will make mistakes and the more beautiful our music will become.

Living a fulfilled life has nothing to do with luck, perfection or providence. Absolutely nothing. Living a fulfilling life has everything to do with fulfilling your dreams. Taking no heed of those poor souls who label the dream “Impossible”. Pressing on, beyond the fence, the block, the street, the city, the suburbs, the highway, the mountains, the continents, the seas, the sky and further.

All these places can be explored, by putting one foot in front of the other. Each step, a perfect resonating chord of beauty.

Writing this makes me wonder where I have ambushed myself, with words and beliefs that are purely fabrications of opinion. I wonder where I have settled and allowed doubt to cloud my vision.

What a wonderful exploration it will be, to pluck these fences up as I discover them and walk in the grass, beyond what I’ve thought possible.

In closing,

I dare you to look something in the eye that you believe yourself incapable of doing. Then take one step toward that “Impossible” goal and see what happens. I wager your foot will land securely. When it does, that big rope of doubt, tied around your chest will begin to fray. Just a little. Then each step you dare to take forward, will begin to slice through the rope. Closer and closer, to freedom from what binds you.

Maybe it’s not an actual mountain or ocean you wish to face. Maybe it’s a different kind of goal, like being a better father, mother, brother or friend. Maybe it’s being better with your money. Maybe it’s playing the mandolin…

The goal matters not. The rules are the same… Place one foot in front of the other. Not swaying. Not wavering. Not quitting.

All that matters is that the goals are beyond the scope of what you have accepted for yourself and that you were wrong about yourself and your abilities.

I hope you take my dare. If you do, don’t be surprised if you look up one day from your sweaty, toilsome path beyond the fence. And pause in the realization, that you have everything, want for nothing and can do anything you set your mind to.

If you don’t take my dare and do not go beyond the fence, the facts remain the same. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can have everything and lack for nothing. You can do anything you set your mind to. You just don’t know it yet.

Either way, the clock is ticking. It is never too late to enjoy the feeling of living life beyond “possible”. It is never too late to inspire someone who may silently pass by, as you lead the way with a few clumsy notes that resonate.

Captain Jesse Osborn


6 thoughts on “Resonate on the bright side.

  1. Hey Jesse ~ so right ~ just keep on a-stepping forward . . . . . . dream big & dare to fail! . . . . . “Ah! – that a (wo)man’s reach should exceed her/his grasp ~ or what’s a heaven for?”
    Yes. . .?

  2. Well spoken Jesse! After my months in the Arctic I can do nothing but agree. Your words also encourage me to continue exploring the suburbs of my own comfort zone. And yes, music is wonderful. During my passage over Baffin Bay I wrote a song to express my impressions. It was the first time I did that – and to my surprise it was beautyful.
    Richard (Libellule in Cambridge Bay)

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