Once upon a time, I was a musician. Actually, I’ve never stopped being a musician. I just haven’t used my gifts and skills much since coming to Wales. Strange, as it’s both ‘land of my fathers’ (or mother in my case) and definitely the place of song.
You can’t stop being who you are, essentially, but you can fall out of practice. Or bury it, give it away, or dress it up as something else in order to fit in.
It’s not always easy to re-find. You have to know that you’re looking for something that’s lost. Or probably more powerfully, you have to give yourself permission to be curious.
A phrase I heard the other day really sparked my interest and framed my search in a way that made so much sense. “You have to find the right frequency and have faith in who you are.” This was Ophra Winfrey quoting her role in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, the film based on Madeleine L’Engle’s classic fantasy novel.
Finding the right frequency
As a musician, I get that in so many ways. When tuning an instrument or pitching the right note, it’s all about the frequency. If it’s out, you know it. When it’s there, it’s sweet.
What makes the sound is air moving at the right frequency. Not just any pattern, give or take, but that specific pattern. The A above middle C at concert pitch (440Hz for those who need to know) can only ever sound exactly like that. And because it’s a sine wave then it continues as long as there is energy feeding it.
The notion of frequency as a metaphor for who we are is great because unless you have perfect pitch – and I don’t – you have to edge your way towards it when tuning… Listening to the sound until it is in sync with the tuning fork or another instrument. Since sound is a sine wave, when the frequency is right the waves completely overlap and it sounds (and feels) as one. Neat.
If I am ‘out’ and haven’t found my frequency, then the noise ‘bumps’. It feels unsettled, it pulls. Currently, this is one of my tests for finding my true voice. When I speak out what I’m thinking does it hang, slightly disconnected? Do I struggle to express it and the words feel slightly foreign or forced?
Or is there a sense of flow? Does it feel like I could continue forever, growing and overflowing in a rhythm all of my own?
If you don’t know your frequency then here is your chance to try. Take something you are already drawn toward and play with it. It could be practical, creative, relational or whatever… See how it feels and fits.
Unfortunately, experimenting is the only way forward. ‘Your’ frequency doesn’t arrive like a card in the post. It’s not an externally given, finished article. We are all a work in progress.
Although we all have our signature frequency that doesn’t mean we have to exist on our own.
Earlier in my life, I did quite a lot of music arranging, including for vocals in multiple parts. One of my great delights was taking people who had never sung in a choir and enabling them to make amazing sound together. It’s awesome to create music collectively, experiencing profound synergy that touches your soul!
Finding your frequency maybe through metaphorically ‘singing’ with other as you find your sweet spot. Although I can sing lead, I probably bring more as I improvise with harmonies around others.
Who do you need to work with or get alongside? Not only to learn from but also to complement. Is this part of who you are, not an also-ran, but bringing a dimension that only you can give?
I am a pathfinder, a navigator. I help people and teams make sense of where they are and see ahead for themselves. There are times when I am breaking ground, clearing the brambles, pioneering new things. But it’s always in the context of others. My frequency, whilst distinctive, doesn’t make sense solo.
And just at the present time, I have a lovely sense of companions on the journey. Having had quite a long ‘alone’ season, I really appreciate the cloak of friends God is wrapping around us. Thanks for being there.
But today the last word goes to Ophra.
I think your only job on earth is to work on you. To find your frequency and allow what you have to offer…