In the 1980’s my mom had a big white t-shirt that had written on it, in bold black letters, all caps, “DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY.” She wore it as a swimming cover up and I remember being embarrassed by the shirt for some weird pre-teenage/teenage reason. I secretly loved the song but had judged the idea of it as a ridiculous motto for life. Still, even though she had a thousand reasons to worry and be miserable, I would use that phrase to assign her a quote for that time if asked, and it makes her even more of a hero to me. I remember her laughing all the time. I remember hearing no for sure, but she would also tell me that there wasn’t really anything to be done sowhy bother getting upset. I guess at some point it turned into a bit of a “suck it up, buttercup” sort of spirit, but there was still underlying happiness. These days,of course, the quote would be something more like, “they took my car and now I can’t even go buy bread if I need to…” with some grumbling and probably cursing, but that’s for another day.
I was thinking about this shirt for a lot of reasons this week and it got me thinking about my own quotes, the ones that define me in certain periods of my life. This is the sort of thing that gives me great pleasure and is a welcome distraction from things I really should be focusing on, much like making a mix tape had been for me in the first large chunk of my existence. It’s a project I cannot wait to begin, and I hope to share with you. Even though I’m chomping at the bit to engage in reflection and decide what my quotes have been in the past, right now I focused on right now.
There’s been a lot happening in my small and more extended family recently and it has become overwhelming in a few ways. I won’t dwell on the details or force you to read some sort of “poor me” indulgence, but I have been referencing a ridiculous quote in my head lately. When I have been down, all I have been able to think is “just keep swimming,” which you may recognize from the Finding Nemo movie. I remember making light of it with some coworkers and using it to make it through meetings and disagreements years ago, and that joy and togetherness has been a great memory to go along with the quote. It has served to lift my spirits and remind me to keep going and just make it through to the other side of whatever all of this is.
Then today I was shopping for a card for Husband and came across a quote by the inimitable Winston Churchill which evokes the same idea, but better. Shocking, I know. He said (or wrote, I honestly have no idea), “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Dang! Well said, sir. I liked it because it is more grown up, and as we all know, I’m a grown up. I also enjoy that the usage of hell serves two purposes for me. On the one hand, most of the time I think I would tell myself that this whatever it is sure stinks, but isn’t hell. On the other hand, it serves as respect for the gravity of whatever it is I’m going through. Nice.
Still, I’m going to stick with what Dory tells Marlin for now, at least if I say it out loud. It serves my purposes just fine and really reminds me of what I need to do in the moment, second by second. I don’t have a stupid t-shirt with it written on it to embarrass my tween yet, but maybe some day I will.