Remember: you are the only person who thinks in your mind! you are the power and authority in your world. Louise Hay
I’m not sure of the reason, but, late Sunday evening, when our plane bumped down onto the runway and braked to a halt in front of the terminal at our Marquette County Airport, the ground crew was unable to connect the jet bridge to the plane’s exitway. So, as the flight attendant pushed open the door, we, the passengers scrambled to pull on coats and scarves and woolen hats in preparation for our walk down the stairs and onto the runway’s sheer icy surface. And the coats and the hats and the scarves didn’t seem to do a bit of good — the descent out into that sub-zero air was a blast of arctic brutal. The sheet of whatever it was that the Marquette crew had placed over the ice to keep us from slipping kept blowing away and the massive gusts of wind nearly blew us away as well. And it didn’t get better. The usual forty-five minute drive home from KI Sawyer Airport turned into a white-knuckle hour-and-ten minute thirty-five-mile-an-hour creep along roads covered with black ice and drifting snow punctuated every now and then with the howl of the wind and the swirl of the snow and a whiteout in which the road and the sky and everything else merged into a sheet of the whitest of white nothingness. I moaned and I prayed and I didn’t feel joy.
A heated home and a dinner left out on the counter by a loving husband and a warm bed — these things do wonders for a shivery cold gal with jangled nerves. And there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to set one’s spirit on the feel-good path again, and nothing like a mid-morning e-mail to lift one’s spirit up even higher into the buoyant air. The swirling snow and the black ice and the frigid cold became a distant memory as I watched the You-Tube video that my friend had sent to me. It was a three-minute film of a recent flash mob in Canton, Michigan instigated by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at the IKEA Store. First, a few members, holding their instruments, made their way to the store’s center, grabbed chairs and began to play, then more members peeked out from the aisles — the strings and the horns, the whole orchestra, so many members of the orchestra playing with heart and with soul. It was Beethoven’s Ode to Joy that they played, and the store, that huge store, it filled up with the music. I think it soaked into everything, the IKEA furniture and the kitchen wares and all that merchandise stuffed onto those shelves, and I know it soaked into the hustling bustling post-holiday shoppers. They stopped their hustling and they stopped their bustling and they stood there and they watched. And you could see it on their faces and you could see it in their body language; they were feeling the joy. Babies clapped and kids swung their arms and grown-ups laughed and held up their phones and recorded this unexpected and joy-filled interruption.
And I, after watching that video again and again, switched gears on a sub-zero windy no-school Monday morning. I had written down quotes for the week’s yoga classes the day before as I sat on the plane making my way home from a weekend of visiting family and friends in Maine, good quotes, I thought at the time, I think centering around believing in yourself. But now, now I was inspired. I was a part of the flash mob mentality at IKEA. So, on the top of a piece of paper I scrawled the words, “Ode to Joy.” Ode to joy! We can’t control the weather, weather too brutal for even we Yoopers, too brutal even for a gal like me who can ski in just about any conditions. But we can control our mentality. So quotes I found, joyful sweeping quotes — one that I especially loved by A.A. Milne about Christopher Robin enjoying a very good day.
And I thought to myself that I, too, want to enjoy a very good day. And I remembered the hat that my cousin Abby, a milliner in New York City had made for me a few years back, a magnificent city hat for me, her country cousin. It’s a warm warm hat and it’s steeped in family history. The fabric that graces its ever-so-soft top is a piece of golden velvet that Abby had found in treasures left by our Great Aunt Mabel, our grandfather’s older sister who also made magnificent hats. And the upsweeping design of a lotus on its front is a remnant of upholstery fabric leftover from one of my Aunt Jo’s projects, and the buttons are ones found in the family button box and given to Abby by her sister Diana. I carefully took my family treasure out of its round hat box and pulled it down over my ears in a snug cozy fit. And I remembered that I have warm mittens too, mittens so warm and thick that I can barely bend my fingers, mittens made from one of my Aunt Jo’s favorite wool sweaters. So with hat and mittens and bundled up clothes, I stepped out into my very good day.
And that evening in yoga, I told of the flash mob in Canton, Michigan and we envisioned our inner flash mob, all of our cells joining together in an Ode to Joy. And why not? Our cells can sing a joyful song and they can play their instruments in a buoyant upsweeping manner no matter what the weather is choosing to do. And we, we can march and stomp our feet and make lots of noise if we want to — and that’s what we did in Monday night in perhaps the same way that Christopher Robin did during his very good day.