“Mr Positive Is Depressed”

I consider myself a “glass half full” type of person, generally looking at the bright side of life.  But my positive attitude was challenged on a recent trip to New York.

My wife Anne and I had just come back from a wonderful 7 night Canada/New England cruise.  We were scheduled to fly home on a late October Saturday afternoon.  As we were waiting for our flight at Newark Airport, I saw snowflakes coming down outside.  “No problem,” I thought, as I had seen flights leaving in similar weather from my home airport in Denver many times.  I was soon to find out, this wasn’t Denver!

Our flight was canceled, we re-booked an early Sunday morning flight, and that flight was later canceled!   We scurried to get a hotel room in an industrial part of Newark for our unexpected two night stay.  There were no restaurants nearby, and the hotel’s restaurant served mediocre food with long waits in service.  Not a place you want to be stuck at for a weekend getaway!

On Sunday morning, as I lay in bed pondering our misfortune, I said to my wife, “Mr Positive is Depressed”.  Yes that morning I was feeling glum, and only later I realized why my mood had turned sour.   It was a combination of factors:

1.  During our eight day trip, I took a break from my daily spiritual practices of meditation, journaling, and prayer.  We were just too busy to take time out to be quiet.  Day by day I drifted from my “calm within” center.

2.  Back home I have a healthy diet.  But on this trip all that discipline went out the window.  If any of you have been on a cruise, you know that you are treated to full dinners with dessert every night, breakfast and lunch buffets with bountiful spreads, and snacks seemingly everywhere.  “Forget the diet, let’s eat!” was my motto for the week.

3.  The overcast gloomy skies.  We were later told this was only the second time in 120 years that New York City had been hit with an October snowstorm.

After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself, Anne said “why don’t we take a tour of New York City today?  I saw they pick up from the hotel.  But if you’d rather stay in the room and watch NFL football I’m ok with that.”

Hmmm.  Staying in the room to watch my home town Broncos was tempting, but I thought “how many chances do we get to tour New York?” and we were soon off on our 6 hour tour.  The day was wonderful, as we saw many sights I have always wanted to visit (the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and more)

In reflecting back on that weekend, I learned a few things about myself:

1.  Just because I am a spiritual, positive person doesn’t make me immune from a down mood every now and then.  During those moods it is helpful to remember “this too shall pass” and think about what may be at the root of the temporary bout with depression.

2.  Always look for opportunities to experience life in new and exciting ways.  Yes, even in that run down airport hotel, Anne found a way we could make the most of our extra day in New York with an educational and fun tour.

3.  Be thankful in all circumstances.  Yes it was a bummer to be stuck in New Jersey for two extra days, but there was plenty to be thankful for.  We were very fortunate to get a hotel room, for one, as many others were stranded at the Newark Airport and had to sleep on the floor in the frigid terminal.  We were thankful for the New York City tour company that just happened to have a scheduled pickup at our small Newark hotel.

As we sailed past Ellis Island on our tour boat that Sunday I thought about my Italian Grandfather, sailing over as a youth in 1912 from Europe , never to see his family again.  What feelings did he have seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time?  On that cold day in New York harbor, I connected with the Grandfather I had never met.  At the end of a trip devoid of spiritual experiences, I had one in quite an unexpected way.

First photo from the Library of Congress

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