“Breathe in…Breathe out…Move on.”
Printed in black letters on white poster board, the small handmade sign sits on the dashboard of my car. It faces the steering wheel, so whenever I’m in the car, those six words are always within view.
|A gentle reminder...
I had the idea to make a sign with the phrase after listening to a song by the same name on Jimmy Buffett’s 2006 CD, Take theWeather with You. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a Parrothead — a diehard Jimmy Buffett fan — many of Buffett’s songs have made their way onto my personal playlist of all-time favorite tunes.
|Buffett's album cover
Buffett co-wrote “Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on” with Coral Reefer Band member Matt Betton as a tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans nine years and one month ago today. In a promotional interview for the release, Buffett referred to the song as “a quiet gesture” that says “We’ve gotta deal with it and move on — no matter how bad it is.”
Although I’ve never had to deal with devastating hurricane damage, like everyone else, I’ve had my share of difficulties. If given half a chance, I know how easy it is for daily woes to escalate into depression and stress. Even with a reminder posted on my car’s dashboard — and another on the window sill by the kitchen table — I sometimes find myself regressing into a tangled web of what-ifs and if-onlys.
Fortunately, to free myself I need only look up. It may take more than one glance but eventually, the simple message works its magic. I refocus my attention and allow my wandering mind to snap back in place. “Breathe in,” I tell myself. “Breathe out. Fretting won’t solve the problem. Let it go. Move on.”
Over the past couple years, Buffett’s words have become something of a mantra to me but it’s hardly the first time I’ve depended on visual reminders to reorient my mindset. During my early 30s, I made a batch of small calligraphy signs stating, “Accept Pleasure” and posted them around the house. At the time, I was deeply enmeshed in raising three young children and far more occupied with giving time to others than in finding time for myself. My two-word message was a reminder that to be a good giver you must also learn how to receive.
During my late 40s and 50s, the phrase, “The best is yet to come,” was my beacon, shining a light on a future bright with possibilities. I didn’t need any signage for that middle age mantra. I simply repeated the phrase often and each mention filled me with hope.
These days, as I’m about to celebrate the third year of my sixth decade, I’m more in need of peace than encouragement or support. I’m tired of being upset, of worry and woe. If a songwriter’s simple phrase can offer me solace, I’m going to embrace it as best I can.
Toward the end of Buffett and Betton’s song, the lyrics sum up my current philosophy:
According to my watch, the time is now
The past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it, just nod your head
Breathe in, breathe out, move on.
Below is a letter I received in response to this column:
Dear Sherry, Loved the column today not that I don't feel the same about all of your columns. However, today touched a soft spot that had nothing to do with hurricanes but with just living life the best you can no matter the circumstance. I'm in the middle of my 7th decade and can see, quite well, the possible end of things a whole lot better than when I was in my 50's. So, the breathe in, breathe out, move on sentiment and the final stanza of the Buffett/Betton song made me make my own sign as you can see from enclosed photo. It has a place on my kitchen counter and I'll probably make one for my own car. Thanks, thanks, thanks, Nan Rigotti