Posted by: bandaidchild | May 15, 2010

All We Can Do is Keep Breathing.

A storm is coming, but I don’t mind. People are dying; I close my blinds.

All that I know is I’m breathing.

I want to change to the world. Instead, I sleep.

I want to believe in more than you and me. . .

All that I know is that I’m breathing.

All I can do is keep breathing.

All we can do is keep breathing, now.

If you’ve not heard Ingrid Michaelson’s song, you should. It was featured on Grey’s Anatomy once.

Here’s the critical importance of the musical additive crescendo: repeating a line with a crescendo triples the power of the line instantly.

“All we can do is keep breathing”

it starts out simple enough with a slightly layered voice. Then come in synthesized instruments gradually, and the drummer does a 4/4 beat on the snare quietly, but steadily. He adds an opposing high-hat clap. Harmony comes in.

People can naturally feel a crescendo coming, whether they’re musicians or not- and suddenly with the crash cymbal comes all the instruments working together, a choir of voices…

And then?

With that same cymbal, the de-crescendo (getting softer) occurs in a manner that could be interpreted as abrupt, but I have this sense that the entire song is meant to make you feel like you’re going through a process of dealing with one thing at a time. Orchestrally speaking, simplicity comes with recognizing you can at least breathe.

I went to Vegas about a month ago with one of my best friends. We first met when I was a junior in High School, on my second trip to South Africa to do evangelism work amongst a people group I fell in love with. She thought I was hilarious, and I thought she exuded kindness. It dripped from her. She wrote me a note on the bus one day, “I am a wall. You can share with me what you’d like, and I’ll be a sounding board for you.” she very accurately described her empathy, and has been quite the wall ever since. Since 2003 we’ve stayed in touch in patches, but our proximal distance never seemed to hinder our emotional bond. Somehow we got the idea to go on a rockin’ road trip this year, and so we did. That’s another post for another day, what I wanted to focus on was the day we went to Vegas.

Vegas is not all it’s cracked up to be. Unless you like naked women, drinking, and money in excess. Then? It’s quite nice, I suppose.

I decided (completely sober, by the way) to get a tattoo, so we found some connections who directed us to the outskirts of The Strip. We met up with a Latino man named Murdock. He sat me in an ancient dentistry chair (which freaked me out horribly) and scribbled, B r e a t h e on my left leg. It hurt. A lot.

My life felt chaotic. I was on the cusp of leaving my stressful job, and in my personal life all I felt was disarray. In the previous weeks I’d been “meditating” (I use that in the literal sense: focused energy) on this song, Keep Breathing.

The song is filled with apathy, but with the understanding that if you can do nothing else, you can keep breathing.

Anderson Cooper wrote an incredible memoir that I’ve read several times. He writes about watching a show about Sharks, and how some have to keep moving in order to stay alive. They need water to be filtered through their gills to keep going. It’s a theme throughout his book. Keep moving. Keep breathing.

I felt, that if I branded myself with the reminder to keep breathing, it might help me to slow down.

To people who could care less about the story behind tattoos, I simply say, “it’s so I remember my next step.”

but to those who salivate over derivations, I explain that sometimes I’m tired of breathing, tired of doing even the simplest of tasks because I feel overwhelmed, or that I get myself all worked up, like a puppy with ADHD, and I forget I have some control: I can breathe. I may not be able to fix anything in my life right now, but I can breathe.

I can take everything one step at a time.

I can keep breathing.

So I got a tattoo to remember.

Vegas is lame. But my tattoo on the outskirts of town inked by a man named Murdock while holding my friends hand as I winced is not lame.




  1. Reading this at work was probably a mistake (a few small tears), but I’m so glad I did. There was a lot of non-effective breathing both on my part and my patient’s part. I’m so glad you are writing (publicly) again, I love how you put things together and I finding you incredibly insightful. I’m so lucky I met you.

    Love you,

    PS. I still think you are hilarious, and I’ve been working fervently on posting the videos of you singing in the car. COMIC GOLD!

    Also, lets never go to Vegas again. ALL THE WAY UP!

  2. Stephanie:
    I can’t wait to get that video. Feel free to put it on Youtube. I could be the next Justin Beiber. Except the female version.

    Yes, let’s never go again. Thank you for enduring it just for me!

    Love you.

  3. I’ve just added you to my Google Reader.


    Keep it up.

  4. I love you. 🙂

  5. …I leave this song on repeat for my own version of therapy more often than I can count…

    …and I relate to your tale of ink… I need to look at my “nothing missing nothing broken” a few hundred times a day to try and let it sink a little further from just being in my head, to being in my heart, too.

    …your a brilliant writer.

  6. …I leave this song on repeat for my own version of therapy more often than I can count…

    …and I relate to your tale of ink… I need to look at my “nothing missing nothing broken” a few hundred times a day to try and let it sink a little further from just being in my head, to being in my heart, too.

    …you’re a brilliant writer.

  7. Wow. Thanks guys.

  8. You need to write a book. I would buy it.

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