“Are you wasting time agonizing over the misfortunes that have or could befall you, or are you reaching for the fresh opportunities still waiting for you on the tree?”
I was never a Suzie-sunshine or look-on-the-brightside Lisa (Yeah, I just made up that second one), but rather a person who saw everything that could go wrong in any situation. But I had a revelation a few years ago that my pessimism -or as I called it then,”realism” eh hem- may have been contributing to the bouts of depression I was having at the time. I started made a conscious effort to speak more positively when I had fears about something negative, and when something bad did happen, I worked to look for the silver lining and/or find how to make it better, instead of taking the doomsday viewpoint. It really made a huge difference not just internally, but externally things seemed to turn out better. Through that I’ve really come to believe that we have a lot more power over our circumstances than we think we do, and can make a huge difference just be altering the words we speak from negative to positive. This doesn’t mean being in denial. I realized it means speaking forth the way you want things to be in the future rather than complaining about how things are. Reality is a point of view.
Well, as you can imagine, this breakthrough of mine gets challenged regularly, and it certainly was last Saturday. Before Hurricane Sandy hit, Alex and I rented a Zipcar and took a trip Upstate to do some apple picking. I must confess, I don’t really like apples much (I like the taste, but the texture of them raw just bothers me!), but it’s so rare that we get out of the city and it sounded like a fun experience that this West-Coast girl never got to have! We make the nearly two-hour drive, belting Disney music on the way, and arrive in high spirits. The orchard is a series of dirt roads on a hill. We follow the map to where we think the Golden Delicious are (the only apple whose texture doesn’t bother me). We can’t find them, but there are some gorgeous autumn trees so I get out to take pictures. I try a bite of a McIntosh apple, but AAH the texture and sound just kill me! Alex laughs and we continue to look for Golden Delicious. We decide it must be further up the hill, so I tell Alex I’ll walk so I can take some more photos and he goes to get the car. I’m feeling so joyful and at home to be in a quiet natural environment when I’m interrupted from my reverie by Alex calling my name from down the hill. I follow his voice to find our rental car backed into an apple tree with the back window completely smashed out. I don’t say anything. I don’t know what to say because so many things are racing through my head like, “So much for our peaceful getaway from the city,” and ” When is the next time we’ll be able to get away like this?” and “Now this day is ruined!” But I carefully chose not to say anything, a rare choice for me. Finally, I asked, “What happened?” The car had lost traction on the muddy hill and slid back into the apple tree ignoring the brakes completely. I kept thinking to myself, “Say something positive, Caroline!” But I had nothing to say, so I was quiet.
Alex, also silent, went to go find someone to help us get the car out of the leaf-covered mud and I called my Mom, because if I couldn’t say something positive, I needed someone to! She empathized with me and the fact that we so rarely get a getaway from the city, but she encouraged me to not let it ruin the day. She reminded me that Alex and I are a team, not enemies in this situation, and told me to try to look for the silver lining or the opportunity to improve the day. I hung up and realized that there is absolutely nothing I could do to change the fact that we crashed into a tree and would have to pay for the damages, but I could change my attitude about it thereby impacting the rest of our day. I said a quick prayer for help in being positive and prayed that Alex would be able to conjure some positivity too.
He came back with the three nicest guys probably within 50 square miles. These workers from Maskers Orchards were so helpful, not only giving us a hand in getting the car out of the mud, but bringing trash bags and duct tape and proceeding to tape up the back window. A girlfriend of one of them came with the three guys. She was also nicer than any NYCer would have been, and told us that she recently had a windshield smashed and that it would probably cost only $300 dollars. She suggested that we just enjoy the day and not call the rental car company until we got home.
“Duh!” I thought. That was the obvious answer. We did just that and went on to pick some apples, (we didn’t find any ripe Golden delicious, but I found out to my delight that I can also eat the red Cortland apple, which is also soft like a Golden Delicious). We bought a gallon of apple cider as well as cider doughnuts and ended up finding ourselves stumbling upon a winery where we had an amazing dinner and glass of wine outdoors while listening to live music that included one of my fave instruments, the electric violin/fiddle. My favorite part of the day was after dinner, Alex and I climbed to the top of the hill near the winery, where we found a large open field and a magnificent view of the valley. We sat there for I don’t know how long listening to silence: the treasured sound that New York City never hears. What could have been a nightmare day turned into a great one, all because we decided that it would be and thanks to God I was able to keep from saying something negative that could have ruined the day.