A friend of mine was going to a conference in New Orleans last week. Since she’d never been there, she arranged to stay a few extra days for a mini-vacation. The person who was going to join her ended up having to cancel, so she called and asked if I was available, and if I wanted to go. I was, and I did, so I booked a flight to New Orleans, and met her at her hotel as soon as the conference was over.

This friend is someone I used to see once or twice a week when we lived in Minnesota, so it was great just to catch up and spend some time together. But we also had a lot of fun exploring the city. We took a sightseeing tour and learned a great deal about the history of New Orleans, as well as background on its many different areas. We saw remains of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, and viewed the levees that have been repaired and rebuilt since then.

We walked all over the French Quarter, and up and down Bourbon Street, although the nightlife there was a little too loud and crowded for our taste. We also enjoyed a jazz dinner cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez, which allowed me to cross “Take a paddleboat ride on the Mississippi River” off my bucket list. And since we were there on Halloween, we saw more people in costumes – from sexy to scary, and from silly to stunning – than I would have ever imagined.

We didn’t spend much time in our hotel room, but whenever we were there we had the TV turned on to the news. It wasn’t a pretty picture, between federal indictments in Washington, the deadly terrorist attack in New York, and an ever-growing list of reports of sexual abusers among the rich and famous, as well as business and military leaders.

It felt a bit strange to go back out into the colorful, boisterous environment of New Orleans after taking in the sober, serious atmosphere of events going on around the country. But I suspect that’s all the more reason to do so. It’s easy to get depressed and caught up in all the awful things going on in the world, especially those that human beings are inflicting on each other. So it helps to remember that there’s a much more positive and powerful influence we can tune in to and benefit from. We just have to pay attention and recognize that it’s there.

It comes from the energy we get when the people around us are celebrating and enjoying life. It comes while we explore new surroundings and experience different cultures than the ones we’re used to. And it comes from the pleasure of a few days spent with a special, treasured friend.

November 3, 2017
©Betty Liedtke, 2017

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