What’s the song you sing when you are in a bind and need to calm yourself down, without the benefit of drugs? You are going into surgery, you have run out of gas along the side of the highway, you are waiting for a phone call from your tardy teen?
For me, it’s a Beatles song — my mantra, Hey Jude.
Paul was my favorite Beatle growing up, and he does a great job repeating the lyrics, to the point that if one doesn’t sing along, it is because one is either from a third-world country or possibly deaf. Who cannot sing along to Hey Jude?
I was twenty-something and taking a road trip to Colorado to ski at Snow Mass or Breckenridge (can’t remember). Somehow my little red Chevy Monza was the chosen car to carry five people, plus ski clothes. It was packed.
I was the worst skier of the bunch, having only tried it a handful of times. I was a solid green-run girl. My boyfriend was a crazy blue-run guy, but he didn’t do turns. He just pointed his skis downhill and flew. Being six foot, six, he barreled through everything. A smart skier got out of his way. The other three ski buddies were high blue-run people or low black-run people.
Silly me, I let them talk me into going to the top of the mountain at 4:00, on the last lift of the day.
We skied off the lift, and the foursome left me in the dust as they disappeared down a blue run. I didn’t feel comfortable doing blue runs, and now I was alone. The lifts had screeched to a halt. The January sun was setting. I had no map and no glasses. This was long before cell phones or ski resort apps.
I looked around for a green sign and finally found a service road that would get me down the mountain. No one was behind me. My legs were tired from a day of skiing.
Every now and then the road would intersect with a blue run, and I’d catch the backs of some skier’s heads as they blew past me. It was getting darker, it was cold, and I was starting to panic. I was the last skier on the run, maybe on the whole mountain.
I listened to the sounds of silence. All I could hear was my own breathing. The snow was dry, it was so cold, so no crunch. No one else skied past me.
Hey, Jude, Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better.
I sang it out loud, and then I felt someone behind me. It was ski patrol, going by. Were they checking up on me?
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better.
My knees were shaking. I had a long way to go.
Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her.
My fingers were numb in my substandard ski gloves. My nose was cold.
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better.
I could barely see. The sun was gone, the air bitter. My ears were stinging.
And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain,
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.
I am going to kill my boyfriend for talking me into this . . .
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder”
. . . and then leaving me behind . . .
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah,
The ski patrol skied by me again. They were keeping tabs on my progress.
I’m not sure how many times I sang the song, but it was several rounds before I got in sight of the parking lot.
The lot was empty except for one red car with a huddle of people around it. What time was it? 4:45? 5:00?
Ha! It was payback time for leaving me behind. The lodge was closed. Everything was closed. Everyone was gone. Had they worried about me? Had the ski patrol let them know that I was on my way?
I had the keys in my pocket.
I got to the end of the run, stepped out of my skis, turned them in to the last working person, and made my way down to the car. No one from the huddle came up to greet me. They knew I was mad. They had half an hour or more to think about how they’d ditched me while I worked my way down the mountain.
I got to the car, opened the doors, and climbed into the driver’s seat. Everyone else piled in. I turned on the heat full blast and headed out of the parking lot. Still no one said a word.
I was mad, sad, and glad that:
I’d been left behind,
I’d gotten scared, and
I’d overcome it all, with a little help from my friends, the Beatles.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
I had my mantra song all picked out and had used it before, in Venezuela, Peru, and Spain. It was Hey Jude back then, and it is still Hey Jude today. I may have sung it in the hospital labor room before giving birth three times. Whenever I hear it, it makes me smile, because it has saved me many a time.
Everyone needs a calming mantra song, even if you can’t carry a tune. Familiar words are soothing and can slow down your rapid heartbeat. Then you can think your way out of stressful situations. You can sing it in pre-op, before surgery. You can sing it while crossing an icy bridge in a blizzard.
If you don’t have a mantra song, get one, one that you really like.
Because you’re going to use it, a lot.