Doldrums

By Erika Hoffman

I felt a bit in the doldrums. Two of my friends, who were supposed to accompany me on a day trip, cancelled. I went anyway. The field trip wasn’t as intriguing as I thought it would be. The next day I developed a cold, and I blamed bus germs from the previous day’s trip. The weekend came, and I learned that a couple of my kids wouldn’t come home for Thanksgiving. That Saturday, we heard from a lawyer that there may be a dispute over a will in which we were beneficiaries, a downer. That night we drove up to see a son and his wife and took them to dinner at a restaurant he suggested. It was loud, expensive, and our halibut was dry. The clientele seemed boozy and strange, and I couldn’t hear any of our conversation as my ears started to become blocked from the cold I was developing.  Sunday rolled round, and my husband had work to do from his office and didn’t have time to spend with me. My stomach roiled, and I realized I had more than a head cold; I’d caught some sort of stomach virus, too. My plans to meet an old friend for lunch that next day would have to be scrapped.

And then I turned on the television and heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris and how young folks who had a lively evening planned at a concert were shot down like fish in a barrel. I thought about how they were carefree, anticipating fun, living life surrounded by the joie de vivre which permeates the Parisian air, and then in a flash they were running for their lives, surrounded by grisly cruelty, gruesome wounds and untimely death. I thought about their fear.

In the following days, I watched the news. Because my sickness didn’t abate, I stayed indoors. Glued to the TV, I began to feel for those families racked by misfortune, never to see their kids or sisters or brothers or mothers or fathers or spouses or friends again. I pondered how life can turn on a dime. And I thought how none of us is owed anything.

I wasn’t owed a good time on my trip the previous Friday. I wasn’t owed good health. I wasn’t owed entertainment by my husband on his day off. I wasn’t promised a perfect holiday with all my kids attending. Life is fragile. Things change fast. Things fall apart.

Watching the suffering and the resolve of the French people made me see how minuscule a “bad day” is for me. I felt clueless at how silly and selfish I’d been to wallow in the doldrums simply because things weren’t going the way I’d planned or hoped.

Gratitude settled over me for all I have: safety in my home, food in my refrigerator, books to read; a computer to communicate with the outside world and two loving dogs curled at my feet. All these simple pleasures are enough. Moreover, I have peace of mind. And those busy folks in the lovely City of Lights zesting after life and amusement and happiness were so quickly deprived of it all. And the French people were robbed of that feeling of comfort and security.

“We don’t know what we got till it’s gone” goes the song. The ditty talks about paving over paradise with a parking lot, but of course the metaphor is that we don’t know what we should be grateful for until it’s lost to us, whether it be people, a place, or a sense of security.

Trite as it sounds a person must count blessings every day and never let herself fall into despair, especially over small things when other humans have events that truly try their souls. Keep all in perspective and feel blessed for all that is going right – that’s the mantra I plaster in my mind’s eye.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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10 Responses to “Doldrums”

  1. Rose Ann says:

    Love this essay. Life if not all sweetness and light–a great reminder to appreciate and enjoy all the happy moments. It gives us balance and fuels us to get through those doldrums. Nice job!

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your essay was moving. We really are blessed, and my mantra is: One day at a time.

  3. Barbara Margolis says:

    An excellent piece of writing that reminds us not to sweat the small stuff and to be grateful for the bounty that we have be given.

  4. This came at just the right time. I’ve had the doldrums for several things falling apart lately. You helped put my life back into perspective. Thank you. I should remember to count my many blessings every minute of every day.

  5. Vipul Mankad, M.D. says:

    Your story inspires me to never forget the blessings of life. As I read the story, I identify with the author. When I came home after treating children with cancer, all troubles at home seemed trivial to me. When I returned from a trip abroad, I realized what a wonderful country United States is.
    Wonderful essay, with an inspirational message, beautifully written!

  6. Cathy says:

    Yes, gratitude helps. Thanks for the essay.

  7. Laurie Goldwasser says:

    Nice reminder during this Thanksgiving season to reflect on the bounty in our lives. Besides counting our blessings we might also consider sharing them.

  8. Sinae Hong says:

    Yes, yes! This gives me the right food for thoughts as Thanksgiving Day is coming, We easily plunge ourselves in the worst situation in mind. Noticing the things we ‘ve already have by our side is the key to be happy and grateful. Thanks for the great piece that enriches my soul! It’s appropriate to share with families and friends.

  9. Sibyl Wagner says:

    This reminder comes at such an important time.
    Life is so short and unpredictable. Gratitude for what we have helps us appreciate the love and beauty in life, and puts smaller disappointments in perspective. Thanks for a great piece!

  10. Joanna Carey says:

    Thank you Erica for your words on the timeless attitude of gratitude.
    It’s so easy to get into the doldrums with all the challenges, but gratitude is like medicine for the soul. It works every time.
    Thank you,
    Joanna

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