When Frank Sinatra faced the final curtain he applauded himself. He had lived his life his way. No regrets, no remorse, no second thoughts. The song has always grated. “Good for you, Frank,” I’ve scoffed. “Truth is, you’re white, you’re rich, you’re male, you’ve had it your way. It’s no wonder you got to do it your way. And anyways, your way sucked for everyone else but you.”

As I face the final curtain (not to be bleak but the simple truth is that I’m closer to the final curtain than the opening act or even intermission) I’m thinking again about Frank’s song. I still see loads of people with Frank’s swagger but more and more people are feeling like victims. This is not how we wanted things to turn out.

More and more people are worried about their futures. There is a collective anxiousness about life itself let alone whether or not our children will have more than us, which used to be the goal of our blithely entitled western society.

Our world is unsettled. We are rattled. We are chasing around looking for something or someone to blame. Some of the most privileged people I know immediately turn to acting like a victim whenever something doesn’t go their way.

We don’t like uncertainty. We don’t like feeling out of control. We want to be like Frank.

But looking back I believe it was the times that I was not in control, not doing it my way, the times when I was most vulnerable and unable to scrabble around to even find a place to put my feet on the ground…it was those times that I found glimpses of my better self. Bits of a more empathetic, intelligent, aware, loving and compassionate Sylvia started to emerge. Those times battered my ideas of absolute truth and eviscerated my sense of knowing anything for sure. Not being in control dislodged me from being the central focus of my well-ordered universe and tossed me into chaos with everyone else. I screamed around like a baby, first feeling the insecurity of not being swaddled. I cried like a toddler wanting something I couldn’t reach. I had lost my way. The world was big, unkind and uncertain but in it I began to find my truth.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. On one hand my motherly impulse wants to wrap it up with something reliable and comforting for our collective selves. On the other hand my motherly instinct says what did we expect? We’ve had it our way for a long time. Some people like Frank have it their way more than others, that’s the truth, but our issues are bigger than that now.

We are no longer simply facing down men in expensive suits in extravagantly appointed rooms devising schemes on their own behalf. We are facing down the planet itself striking back at us all. We are facing down the modern AI Frankenstein that has the power to control power itself. It truly does appear to be an appropriate time to toss our hands up and throw a tantrum. Or, as some would have it, to fall on our knees and solicit God to save us from ourselves.

On the other hand—here’s where we need more than two hands, and here’s where motherly instincts and skills are helpful. On the other hand we can choose to breathe deeply, relax and focus, breathe deeply, relax, focus, breathe deeply, relax, focus. We need someone to hold a cold cloth on our forehead. We need someone to coach, encourage and remind us that we can do it. We are facing a massive challenge of uncertainty. Even with all of our modern medical technology we don’t know what we will birth. We don’t know if the future being will bless our lives or curse it. We don’t know if it will live or die.

But you know the one thing very few mothers do when they face those excruciating times? Very few birthing women toss they hands up and throw a tantrum. We might curse and swear at our man, our god, our world, but we breathe deeply, relax (sometimes not so much) and focus, breathe deeply, relax (maybe just our shoulders), focus, breathe deeply, relax, focus, focus, focus, breathe, breathe…

This isn’t the time for Frank’s pompous swagger. We have many regrets and we should. Our way didn’t work, folks.

How about a little meekness, fellow humans? How about acknowledging our collective responsibility? And our vulnerability? How about embracing the current uncertainty and letting our more compassionate, empathetic selves emerge?

Inspired by my own ramblings this morning I want to bring some mothers and aunties together at the Lodge to breathe deeply, relax and focus, breathe deeply, relax, relax, relax, focus. Maybe we’ll find ways to use our collective energy to help push this crazy world forward and give birth to a better way…more later…any suggestions?

7 thoughts on “Breathe deeply, relax, focus

  1. You are an earth angel Sylvia. My husband is lying beside me, very sick with cancer. He does not want to die in a hospital. My sister died alone in VGH during COVID which still tears at my heart. Your reminder to “breathe deeply, relax and focus, breathe deeply, relax, relax, relax, focus” is so appreciated. Thank you. 💖

  2. I would love to take part, facilitate, breathe. I, ironically, appreciate Frank Sinatra—mostly his others songs, for the nostalgic reminder we all have stories of loss and love and more loss, and then more love.

    We can only do I our way when considering it is not in isolation, that I is We and that has somehow been lost. Mother Earth reminds.

    Love you Mum In Law. 🎶 “When I Was Seventeen”—perhaps a good listen for anyone who reads your post. Insert own lyrics…

    1. There is so much more to this discussion…thank you thank you for pushing it forward. I wrote this after singing along to Frank’s song at Canadian Tire. I got all wrapped up in the bravado of it. Feeling very Frankish and good about myself didn’t last, however. Not even until I hit the highway. Then I got miffed and thought about how these “good times” have been so selfish and thoughtless and unfair and ultimately destructive. It doesn’t bring out our best selves. I’m thinking it’s a good time to reconsider our good times.

  3. Have a knitting retreat! Let us come together, relax, share, interact with like minded people doing what we all love!

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