I’m in Ottawa, Canada now. I’m on vacation with my family in this capital of Canada. It’s about a 5-hour drive from Buffalo, my hometown, and I’ve never been here before. It has a European sensibility with historical buildings everywhere.
And it’s been hot; steamy, lava-like hot. But having endured yet another merciless Buffalo winter where the bitter cold felt epoxied to my hands and feet, I can’t complain.
I’m an early riser, and I’m no different on vacation. Whatever town I’m in, the first place I look for is a Starbucks. Many Ottawans, however, seems to pooh-pooh that dark brew from Seattle. “Go organic and go local, man,” says my hotel concierge; a pasty, redheaded young man of maybe twenty-two who looked fifteen named, “Brad.”
So here I am at Bridgehead, a chain that you can only find in Ottawa, that serves “organic, fair-traded and freshly roasted” coffee. The interior of the place is decorated with IKEA furniture with giant windows letting in morning light muted by today’s grey, watercolored clouds.
I’ve been feeling pretty grateful, lately. Maybe it’s the summer sun or the cyclical nature of my moods, but I feel happy. Waking up this morning, my wife and daughter were still asleep. I just celebrated my 18th year anniversary and my daughter is entering her sophomore year in high school. A few weeks ago, I received my 25-year pin from my bar association to commemorate my silver anniversary in the profession. My mom’s been gone four years and I’m 35-five years removed from my high school graduation. Check out the blog I wrote for my 30th high school reunion.
I have a lot less hair, but I think a bit more wisdom. A piece in the New York Times took a stab at what wisdom is:
“They learn from previous negative experiences. They are able to step outside themselves and assess a troubling situation with calm reflection. They recast a crisis as a problem to be addressed, a puzzle to be solved. They take action in situations they can control and accept the inability to do so when matters are outside their control.”
Maybe. But the few people I’ve met in my life that I think wise, are more than that. They have warmth of heart; an appreciation of life despite its troubles and the occasional tragedies that everyone is sure to be struck with if one lives long enough.
Sitting here sipping my coffee in my middle-aged self, I don’t really know how wise I am. But I do know that I’ve had more than my share of blessings and good fortune to be wise enough to smile in appreciation on this summer’s day.
As Mark Twain wrote, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”
Here’s to more wrinkles.
2 thoughts on “Summer On My Mind”
Welcome to Ottawa! I hope you enjoy your vacation here, and more of our local food and drink offerings (this is a great foodie town). Your post comes at a good time for me — it has encouraged to be grateful for the wisdom I’ve earned through depression. And it’s a nice continuation of the shift in perspective I’ve been working on the past few days that started with a Douglas Adams quote: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” Two years ago I dipped really low into depression, but have been steadily climbing back out and was doing okay for the past few months. But earlier this month I started to notice signs of a dip and then the steep decline started again, along with the worry and hopeless feelings of wondering if this is what life will be like from now on. The quote reminded me that I am in a better place now than I was before. I know more about myself, and I know the signs of depression now. And most of all, I know it is possible to climb out — I’ve done it before and I have help at my disposal. So I spent the past few days going through my “toolbox” of resources, putting in place those that have helped me in the past and noticed yesterday a leveling off. I’m not out yet, but it’s a step in the right direction which, along with wrinkles, is something to be grateful for. 🙂
Thank you for this kind and thoughtful note. I am blessed to meet people everywhere I go who want to share – how special that you’re from Ottawa. I can relate all too well with your experiences. Depression seems to be chronic for many of us. It goes away and then blows back into town like an unwanted guest. I welcome you to write a guest blog for my website. I try to offer readers a mixture of guest pieces that are from authors, experts and people, like you and I, who live with it everyday. If you’re interested, please shoot me an email at email@example.com. You can write such a blog anonymously, if you choose. Warmly, Dan