By E. Adam Porter
Editor in Chief, News of Sun City Center
I’m one of those guys who likes to be in control, in charge … Handling It. But, every year, as May comes around and brings with it another birthday, I take some time to reflect on my last trip around the sun and just exactly how much of what happened to and around me is totally outside my control. It’s a good reminder, though part of me prefers to forget as soon as possible.
At some point around that birthday celebration, Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride remind me. Their duet, Trip Around the Sun is a staple on my playlist every birthday, part of a handful of Buffett tunes on that list even some certified Parrotheads can’t quite place. They may not be my favorites from his catalog, but they’re good, and, more importantly, they’re predictably evocative, faithful reminders.
In Trip, Jimmy hears someone singing “Happy Birthday” and begins to think about the wish he’d make, because “this year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake”. Eventually, though, he realizes this ol’ world will keep spinning no matter what he tries to do to stop it, change it or slow it down. At one point, Martina quips: “You never see it coming, but you wind up wondering where it went…” Pretty much encapsulates the futility of trying to control and manage every little thing.
In When the Coast is Clear, Jimmy talks about taking time to reflect. The mind-clearing effect of heading down to the shore after all the tourists have gone home. Reminds me, when life gets to be Too Much, I can always go home again, take a little time to talk to me.
In Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season, Jimmy reminds me there’s no arguing with nature. The world will keep spinning, and occasionally it will toss a hurricane your direction. You just prepare and repair as best you can. I’ve lived through my fair share of Big Storms with their battening down and evacuations. The creepy calm of standing in the eye, and the eerie silence after the storm has passed. The open-ended question: What now?
In Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on, Jimmy talks about what happens after catastrophe, personal or collective, using the tragedy of N’awlins after Katrina as a metaphor for the sort of horror life can dish out and the best way to respond. The opening verse is one of my favorites: “I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man floating down Canal. It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands, it always just says, ‘now’ … You might think that I’ve been had, but this watch is never wrong. And if you have trouble the warranty says, breathe in, breathe out, move on.”
In Stories We Could Tell, Jimmy asks “Is there something else we’d be doing if we could?” I like that question, because it forces me to re-evaluate the things I’m doing on a daily basis, and whether or not those habits are bringing me closer to Where I Want to Be.
But, at the end of all the self-evaluation, rumination and prognostication, the greater truth slams home for the umpteenth time. Again, from Trip Around the Sun…
“I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning, and it’s good to know it’s out of my control… if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living, is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go … so I’ll just enjoy this around this ride on my trip around the sun…until it’s done…”
I can do my best – and should – at what I do and when I do it. But, ultimately, I’m not in control. I’m just hangin’ on. Holding on, best I can to the hands and hearts around me, and hoping not to let any of them go any time soon. But I don’t get to decide that, either way, so I’m gonna go back to the island, sit on the beach and have a beer.
You’re welcome to join me.