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Just keep your head above…

Taking a deep breath to write this. Life isn’t always easy. But it’s not always hard either. It’s the in between times, the ones that are non-descript that sometimes cause the most trouble. We don’t really know how to handle them. They could be worse, yes. But they are hard just the same.

I listen to a lot of music. I don’t often do anything without music. I sleep with music on (Native American flutes and sounds), I write with music (Currently I am listening to the soundscapes channel on comcast), I have over 4,000 songs on my ipod. I have the Pandora app on my phone and my computer. Music, undoubtedly, is a big part of my life.

There is a song that always comes on my ipod at the times I need to hear it the most. I have loved it since the first day I heard it. It has become an anthem for me. It is a reminder, a mantra of sorts.

The words go like this:

You’ve gotta swim, swim for your life

Swim for the music that saves you

When you’re not so sure you’ll survive

You gotta swim and swim when it hurts

The whole world is watching

You haven’t come this far to fall off the earth

The currents will pull you away from your love

Just keep your head above

I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn

Memories like bullets, they fired at me from a gun

Crack in the armor, yeah

I swim for brighter days despite the absence of sun

Choking on salt water

I’m not giving in, I swim

You gotta swim for nights that won’t end

Swim for your family, your lovers, your sisters

And brothers, and friends

Yeah, you gotta swim through wars without cause

Swim for the lost politicians

Who don’t see their greed as a flaw

The currents will pull us away from our love

Just keep your head above

I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn

Memories like bullets, they fired at me from a gun

A crack in the armor, yeah

I swim for brighter days despite the absence of sun

Choking on salt water

I’m not giving in, well, I’m not giving in, I swim

You gotta swim, swim in the dark

There’s no shame in drifting

Feel the tide shifting and wait for the spark

Yeah, you gotta swim, don’t let yourself sink

Just find the horizon

I promise you, it’s not as far as you think

The currents will drag us away from our love

Just keep your head above

Just keep your head above, swim

Just keep your head above, swim, swim

Just keep your head above, swim

–Jack’s Mannequin

I couldn’t just pick part of the song.

The whole thing means something to me. And lately, I have been repeating my mantra often.
Two weeks ago, I spent the day in Reading as we got my mom settled in a nursing care facility 2 miles from her house. I have a visual in my head that makes my heart race everytime I think of that day. I was sitting with her at the table before the van came to pick her up. I held her hand. She was quiet. I was facing the window… and just outside the window was a bird house that she wanted put in when they moved there four years ago. I sat and looked at it quietly, my head on my mom’s shoulder, staring at the birdhouse, thinking about how she wanted that so she could see it out the window. I knew this would be the last time she would be there. She can’t see the birdhouse anymore, but she knew it was there.
It was an emotional day. The birdhouse, the van, the ride over to her new home. It was hard. But it was necessary. The care she is getting is far beyond what ANYONE in my family could give anymore. My sister and dad have been doing it on their own for the better part of 4 years. I respect and admire what they did. But it got to be too much. They were drowning, and it was time to get the care she needed. It was time to make sure their health didn’t suffer on top of it. And as I walked to my car to head over to the facility, I turned around and saw mom being wheeled into the van. This was a new beginning.
The song played in my head on my way across the lawn.

It’s rained a lot lately. Easy to feel like you are drowning some days. I have had a cold, been inundated with work and papers, and clients. And fall softball at Ursinus. It’s been great. But there are hard days. Days I feel like the tide is pulling me.
Monday was cut day. And by all means, Monday was not an easy day. I have emotions. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to be that tide for anyone else… but there are times when things have to be done that I don’t necessarily want to do. I do them because they are right. On my way home in the car last night, after my last meeting was over. I drove in silence. The song played in my head. And I listened to it over and over.

There is tragedy on the news, suicides, bullying, people who are not regarded as important to society. The sad fact, often they aren’t important enough to themselves. Did no one tell them? Sometimes we have to be told. Sometimes we just need to know that all this swimming we are doing isn’t for nothing. I feel that too sometimes. I swim a lot. I just want it to mean something. Someday I want it to all pay off. Doesn’t have to be in money. Doesn’t even have to be in recognition. I think what I have seen is we all just want to be appreciated. We all want to know that all the swimming?….Yeah, it matters. It matters a lot. And you may not always know it. You may get tired of doing it… and you may even just want to quit. I know it’s hard. But there are good parts too. There are people you touch that you may not even know about. There are times when the swimming just makes you stronger.
And there are times when the swimming actually has a purpose. When sitting in silence staring at a birdhouse is a memory that means more than anything in the world. Driving back that day from mom’s new home, as is always the case… out of 4127 songs on my ipod, “Swim” found its way through my speakers. I smiled and shook my head. My mantra. My reminder.
And I am sure as I drift off to sleep tonight, somewhere through my Native American Flutes I will be singing in my head…
Just keep your head above.

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