Having a 14-month-old running around has definitely increased the noise level in my house. He likes to talk, and although I can't understand a thing he says, I'm certain that whatever it is happens to be very important.
To me, noise has always been a weird area. I know that is a strange thing to say, but I'll explain.
When I was a child, I hated things that were loud. Fire engines and fireworks and parades were never that much fun to me, because I really didn't like how loud they were.
I am now beginning to see that my son is a lot like me. When dogs bark or a motorcycle rips down the street, he stops whatever he's doing and gives a look of disgust. He hates the vacuum, and in a few days we'll find out if he likes the lawn mower or not.
Watching his reaction to this stuff reminds me of how I've always been.
Yes, I love loud music, but to me, that is much different than the sudden pop of fireworks or the roar of an engine.
I enjoy the quiet.
When I moved to Youngstown, I knew that one of the things I would miss more than anything else was how close I used to be to Lake Erie.
No, it's not the ocean, but it became a place of peace and reflection for me. I spent so many hours and days down there that I knew which part of the break wall was comfortable to sit on and which one the mice liked to hide in.
One of my favorite things to do was to sit down at the lake, after the sun had set, and listen to the sound of the waves. It was peaceful and it allowed me to get into my head to sort out whatever had happened that day or week.
In the quiet moments, you can decompress without outside noise filtering in.
Don't get me wrong, I love listening to my son's constant chatter. It makes me laugh, and seeing the serious look on his face when he's ''telling'' me something often makes my day.
But, in those moments of silence or quiet (since I realize that waves do make enough noise to not be considered silent), you can actually hear yourself.
In this line of work, the chance for a moment or two of quiet is few and far between. There is constant movement around the room and people are always talking, but that's the nature of this business. We ask questions and we talk.
That is why I cherish the occasional moment of respite, whether it is in the car or late at night when my family is asleep.
I've heard the phrase ''alone with my thoughts'' a million times and there are times when that is all a person really needs. I like to take time to sort out my thoughts and to listen to what's going on inside my head. (There may be voices, but most of them make sense and only one of them has an Irish accent).
If I could say one thing it would be to just take a minute or two alone. Listen to your thoughts and sometimes the answer that you've been searching for all day will be there. If a moment of solace is lying in a hammock then do it for 10 minutes. If it's in a bubble bath, go for it.
For me, it's hearing that water falling onto the rocks and then rushing back into the lake or ocean. Some of the clearest moments of my life happened down on that pier and it was because I allowed myself to just shut up and listen.
Joshua can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org