Finally, I had gotten away on my own. I went down to my condo in sunny Florida. Relishing my impending solitude, I planned to play some ball and then then unleash my creativity into my work.
But another force intervened, and I found I could do neither. A cold, the most banal of all ailments, struck me with such unprecedented intensity, transforming my normally energetic, overactive self into a full-fledged couch denizen. Cursing my bad luck and my lost weekend, I just lay there and did nothing but watch one channel, Turner Classic Movies.
As it turned out, that cursed other force had more in store for me than just respiratory distress. TCM was airing “The Lost Weekend”, the 1945 Academy Award Winner. It starred Ray Milland as a charming but pathetic writer and the worst alcoholic ever depicted on screen. The movie focuses on one weekend when he is supposed to be focused on writing a book, but is in the midst of an ongoing drinking bender. He has delusions of clarity about his book while drinking, but comes up blank when sitting in front of his typewriter. The people who love and support him are helpless to prevent his collapse.
As I watched this man’s total unraveling, my perspective on my so-called “lost weekend” radically changed. I had gained far more than I lost. I had a chance to understand the gift of health I take for granted every day. I also saw some of the greatest movies, all Academy Award Winners with actors like Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, James Cagney, and Audrey Hepburn who expressed the evils and temptations of the world without shedding an inch of flesh or uttering a profane word.
When I woke up the next morning feeling much better, I realized that my mind had a better vacation that if my body stayed healthy. Sometimes we just have to take vacations on our own terms and give ourselves that gift to rejuvenate the mind. It can really pay dividends.