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Do you have a big enough stick?
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My family and I went on a spring break vacation last week, and during that time I developed a tooth ache. Why does this kind of thing always happen when you are on vacation away from home and your dentist?
I decided I could live on Advil, Tylenol and Orajel for the week. That lasted until Thursday, and then I went through a rapid decline. Seems like nothing was working very well; even a long distance prescription from my dentist (God bless him) for a stronger dose of pain reliever only gave me temporary comfort. Unfortunately, you can’t eat those things like M&Ms; they have to be rationed out every six hours.
Fast-forward to Wednesday of the following week, when I’m still trying to manage this issue. It has gotten much better after two visits to the dentist and a specialist in endodontics; a third visit and I should be good-to-go. The dentist discovered I had two cracks in my tooth that went all the way to my feet — or so it seemed.  Must have been all those crunchy snacks I like to eat.  They should put a warning on the box of those big, hard pretzels that reads, “May cause pain resulting in out-of-body experiences!”  If you’ve ever had a toothache for any length of time, you know what I mean.
The interesting thing is that through all this agony and pain, I discovered that the suffering I experienced was proportional to the amount of idle time I had to think about the pain. I had to mix in some business while vacationing, and during the time I spent working and being productive, I felt little discomfort. As soon as I was able to relax, the pain would increase.
I think life is much like this. When you find yourself in a place that is low and depressing, you have two choices. You can sit there and wallow in your sorrows, or you can get up and do something to make your situation better, even if it means just keeping busy in order to take your mind to a different and maybe even better place. That’s what happened when I was working. I didn’t have time to worry about my own problems; I was busy trying to help someone else.
There’s a poem a friend shared with me a while back that emulates this thought. I can’t remember the name of it, but if you come across one you feel matches this description, please email it to me.  There are many great poems written about this topic, so staying active and doing good for others helps keep your mind off of your own problems and concerns. Of course, the real challenge is being able to do just that. Some people are better at it than others.
If you are one of these folks, like me, who gets stuck in that low point every now and then, keep your head up. There’s more life out there than you can beat with a stick. The real question is, do you have a big enough stick?  
Think about it.

DeLong is the executive director for The Suites at Station Exchange. Email to

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