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.