Find Joy in Today, Take Two

Last year, my husband Frank and I planned a trip of a lifetime—a Rhine River cruise through the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. Twenty-four days before the trip, though, Frank ended up in intensive care with a major health crisis.

Four days after he was out of the hospital and on the road to recovery, we consulted with doctors about the trip. “If it were me,” one doctor said, “I’d go.”

The adage, “It’s the things we don’t do that we regret,” rattled around in my head. Should we let yesterday’s stress and tomorrow’s uncertainty change our plans? Or should we enjoy today? We filled prescriptions and packed our bags.

On the European cruise we considered canceling, my always-curious husband’s thoughts centered on the history of medieval towns such as Cologne, Germany, while we viewed impressive cathedrals and marveled at ornate Roman mosaics. He and I didn’t dwell on the “what ifs” that can send a person down a dark tunnel. Instead, we sipped wine from local vineyards and explored a castle with a hidden passage and a witches’ tower. 

Our minds were engaged with the workings of the river’s lock system and the fascinating collapsible upper deck wheelhouse, which allowed the ship to fit under low bridges.

On the trip that we considered canceling, we had some worries, but we didn’t let them stop us from laughing together during the tour’s evening entertainment. We enjoyed conversations with fellow travelers and staff from countries such as Scotland, Indonesia, and Ukraine. We learned about their lives and shared tales of our own. 

We breathed easily as we strolled along Amsterdam’s Keukenhof tulip garden, inhaling fragrant scents. We paused to take photos by the picturesque windmill and soaked in the music of birds in harmony with a distant calliope.

In Switzerland, possibly our favorite country of the four, stress melted away while strolling on flower-strewn promenades and viewing charming villas and colorful sailboats. We leisurely soaked in the alpine landscape and meadows full of wildflowers and listened to a couple play a combination of cowbells to the sweet tune of “Edelweiss.” 

Instead of reliving our crisis, we focused on reawakening our palettes and enjoyed fragrant cheeses, specialty olives, local wines, gourmet entrees, and desserts such as crème brûlée.

Once we returned home, we felt victorious. We hadn’t wasted our time dwelling on the past. We’d gathered memories instead.

After this column appeared a year ago, a woman shared that she had cut it out and mailed it to a relative who also had a health scare. But unlike Frank, he’d chosen to stay indoors. I’m glad we didn’t hole up and worry about what could happen next. I’m glad we found joy in today.

(This column is revised from “Find Joy in Today,” published in May 2023.)

2 Replies to “Find Joy in Today, Take Two”

Debbie Gille

i remember you sharing this story a year ago. You both know you made the right decision… in the moment….and now you can relive it by talking and sharing special moments. thanks for the great reminder to find Joy in every day.

Thank you for the reply, Debbie, and for being a faithful reader. I appreciate your comments. Amy

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