Gloom to Bloom

Written By Bob Hunt

Picture four guys in a tent, midway through a six-day canoe trip. It is raining and cold, and the tent is leaking. Looking outside, one camper begins to bemoan their situation and the rising water outside of the tent. A second camper opens the pocket on his jacket, pulls out a roll of candy, and turns to the first camper and offers, "Lifesaver?" In a moment the atmosphere inside the tent changes from gloom to bloom. Everyone is laughing, enjoying the pun and the absurdity of life.

Image of two men in dark green canoe
Photo: openg via flickr Creative Commons

Canoe tripping means you have to carry everything. A half pound here and a few additional ounces there start to add up in a hurry. Not long ago I wrote a blog about letting go of the things you no longer need to carry. I believe some thoughtful lightening of your load is important for one's spiritual wellbeing, but I also believe that a little splurging can be helpful.

While it seems to defy logic, the decision to pack some luxuries on a canoe trip can actually make for a better trip. Packing something that is funny and is a treat can move everyone from gloom to bloom when you inevitably hit a physical or emotional low. I confess to having made a quick paddle back from a lodge on the last evening of a trip, 8 ice cream bars in hand for a group of canoers who were exhausted and very hot. A simple or even luxurious treat helps raise spirits and instils some hope for tomorrow.

When living with cancer, patients and family members carry a lot of weighty things like the physical exertion of repetitive treatments and the emotional toll of waiting for results. For many, this is accompanied by reduced physical stamina. It can be the little things that help get us through the rough times. When my father's mouth was sore, his little treat was having a Popsicle and watching a movie with my mother each evening. This was a time they looked forward to and it gave them a boost to meet the challenges of the next day. Having some tactics to enjoy a laugh and see things differently may be just the thing that gives you energy for the next day, transforming your gloom to bloom.