Early morning on a breathlessly beautiful day. I arrived for a physical therapy session, gave the receptionist my name and took a seat. An elderly gent was waiting as well. He seemed lost in thought, somewhat glum, head down, hands locked in his lap. My “G’mornin’” found only a long silence.
“Beautiful day out there,” the receptionist said, shattering it.
“Sure is,” I said.
“But tomorrow’s gonna be miserable,” the gent replied. “Heavy storms. Flood warnings, all day,” he added, sounding like he was already in the midst of them. He sat in gloom till his doctor greeted him, then struggled up and shuffled off to his appointment with what felt like a dark thunderhead hovering over him.
Driving home under an almost cloudless sky, I replayed the scene, feeling sad for the elderly man, hoping he would not miss out on the pleasures of a gorgeous summer day. Then I caught myself singing, “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in his sky …,” before getting lost in my own thoughts.
In this fragile world life is a moment-by-moment gift. In our humanness, however, we sometimes let our minds take us to places we do not need to go, missing the moment. We forget that we make our own choices and how they can sometimes shape our lives.
Studies show that the workings and power of the mind are important determinants of our well-being. The many stories of cancer patients “beating the odds” because they refused to “give in and give up” upon hearing the diagnosis offer lessons to the rest of us. Such people choose to look beyond the negative and do what needs to be done, believing they will get through and survive the challenges they are facing.
This world is all light and darkness, with many varying shades in between. One does not need a Pollyanna mindset or technicolor sunglasses to deal with reality as much as wide eyes and a working mind. The gift of life is not a matter of tuning out but of tuning in. There is much to fear these days, both abroad and at home: Terrorism, war, genocide, human trafficking, drive-by shootings, and lately even the weather. We are all vulnerable. If we choose to embrace and feed the fears stirred up, we can imprison ourselves, missing out on the gift life is meant to be.
A glittering, cool summer day is a gift to be grateful for and enjoyed. One’s bones may be hurting, but there is no gain in living ahead of the moment. As it happened, the storms that seemed to hang over the elderly gent passed overnight, and the following day was as beautiful as the day before.