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On the Bright Side

The sun, the sun!

It’s been raining for 16 straight days here in Washington, DC. When the sun finally comes out (and surely it will, eventually), the District populace may go collectively hog wild. If the sun happens to emerge on a weekday, the Powers That Be had better just declare a holiday, because no one will be working anyway.

When I flew out of DC last week, the clouds hung so low over the city that the 7am morning light might as well have been 7pm dusk. The upside to this gloomy departure (aside from the fact I was flying toward better weather) was that I got to enjoy one of my favorite flying phenomena: breaking through a thick layer of clouds into blinding sunlight. It feels almost magical; but, of course, it’s always sunny above the clouds.

Every time this happens, I think to myself that there must be some bigger life lesson hidden in this scientific fact.

When you’re weighed down by dark clouds (of the literal or figurative variety), it’s hard to remember that things haven’t always been this way, hard to call to mind the feeling of being in the light. The chances of the darkness lifting anytime soon – or at all – can seem remote or downright inconceivable. It’s as if you’re suspended in time, with the current state of things constituting the entirety of your past, present and future.

Except, of course, it doesn’t. Anthony Robbins offers some great advice for how to solve problems in your life, and it starts with having the right mindset about the problem. You just have to believe three things:

First, the problem isn’t permanent. “This too shall pass” may sound like a cliché, but it’s actually true. No problem (or weather pattern) lasts forever. Change is inevitable. Second, the problem isn’t pervasive. A solitary problem doesn’t mean your entire life is ruined; it just means that one area of your life needs tweaking. And finally, the problem isn’t personal. One incident or failure doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, just as a string of rainy days doesn’t mean that Washington, DC is a horrible place to live.

Robbins has written an entire book on this subject. I prefer simply to think about this from a traveler’s perspective.

What air travel reveals to us about the atmosphere – that just above us, the skies are clear and the sun is shining – is true about our lives as well. The solutions are near at hand, maybe even right on top of us. Somehow, knowing that the answers are there, even if they’re out of reach for the moment, is both comforting and motivating. Even if you can’t get on an airplane, the sun is still shining up there somewhere, and you’ll be out of the gloom soon enough.

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