You can choose to enjoy the gray days of life

It was a gray day. That I have to admit. And yet, the grayness wasn’t at the top of my mind.
It was the spring of the year in 1949, and I was walking across the northern Indiana campus I had so grown to love.
In a way I felt sad because graduation was so close. And yet I couldn’t help but smile thinking about all the fun we’d had. The dunkings in the fountain. The parties. The service projects. The late night discussions. And the strolls by the canal.
It would be hard to have imagined a better college experience. And even if it was about to end, I did still have today.
It was then I looked up and saw my major professor heading toward me on the sidewalk. He didn’t say hello and he didn’t say my name. Dr. S. A. Yoder spoke only one short crisp sentence, “It’s a gray day!”
Now, I wasn’t of a mind to let the grayness spoil my day so as crisply as he had spoken, I retorted, “I like it that way.”
“It’s still a gray day!” insisted Dr. Yoder and headed home for lunch.
In the late 1940s, you didn’t talk back to major professors. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have liked to.
Of course, maybe it was just the naive optimism of an inexperienced 20-year-old up against the cynical realism of a seasoned professor. Or maybe it was just the wry humour of a Ph. D. who only smiled out of the corners of his mouth.
But whatever it was, I believed then, and I still believe now, that you can choose whether or not to like the gray days. And what you choose can make an enormous difference in the way you experience life.
It makes me think of Olympic skater Michelle Kwan. A wonderful, winning skater, Kwan was designated the sure winner of the “gold” in 1998. And then, at the last moment, a 15-year-old upstart stole the crowd and the medal.
It was weeks later that I saw Michelle Kwan on television. She said simply, “Everyone asks me how I feel about losing the gold.”
“But,” said Kwan confidently, “I didn’t lose the gold. I won the silver.”
When you come right down to it, attitude might be the only thing that really matters in life. It’s attitude that determines whether an Olympic silver medal is winning or failing. And it’s attitude that determines whether a gray spring day is depressing or fun.
We like to think of spring as the time of bright flowers and radiant sunshine. Of dancing children and laughing adults. But spring isn’t always that way. Especially not this year.
There’ve been too many days of dropping barometers and heavy storm clouds. Too many days when life’s problems seem insurmountable. Days when it’s hard to remember that the sun will actually shine again.
No matter how you try, you can’t stop the gray days from coming. But you can choose how to handle them.
You can choose to light a candle, and play some music. To sit by the fire. And read a book. You can choose to make a cup of hot chocolate.
And better yet, you can choose to do it with a friend. Because sometimes it takes another person to help put the fun into a gray day.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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