Few things have compared to the astonished delight I felt when I opened the front door to an unexpected ring. A man stood on my front porch clutching a a Happy 40th Birthday Mylar balloon in the midst of several colorful plain ones. After he determined I was indeed Sharon Lippincott, he confidently stepped into the living room and began singing the Happy Birthday song. Then he handed me the bouquet, bowed, and left. What a sweet surprise! Though the attached card had two names, I knew my sister-in-law had outdone herself, and my gratitude lives on.
The standard balloons were dead within a day or two, but that Mylar one seemed destined to live forever. At first I felt a warm glow every time I saw it. But sentimentality didn’t last much longer than the standard balloons. Soon the glamor of that birthday faded. I’d had such hopes that turning forty would magically bring new levels of respect and success, and it didn’t take long to realize that nothing had changed, nor would it, at least not by the simple passing of days. I plunged into an abyss of despair.
I’d allowed that Mylar balloon free range, and it drifted silently, following air currents from room to room. Soon it took on the aspect of a spirit, suddenly appearing in the corner of my eye. This was disconcerting, and the balloon became the focus of my angst.
About three weeks after my birthday, I had come to hate that balloon and all it stood for. Then I made a sudden decision. I took the filmy plastic out the door through which it had arrived. I stepped into the middle of the yard, whispered a simple apology to the environment, and … turned it loose! I stood for two or three minutes watching it rise into the warm spring sunshine until it grew too small to see. When I turned to go back into the house, I realized that all my disappointments and darkness had soared away with it. I felt free and happy again.
I’ve never been tempted to buy other balloons to recreate that sense of release. Aside from the litter effect, buying my own would lack the magic of that symbolic surprise. But I have done something else just as effective: I’ve written out all my frustrations and anger and sent them up in flames. Sometimes simply journaling helps. Or writing a story about it.
Try it. You’ll like it!
Write now: dredge up some stressful thoughts. Unless you just happen to have a magic balloon floating around, write about those thoughts, using scrap paper. When you have it all out, shred the paper, or tear it to bits. Put it in the fireplace or somewhere safe and burn it. Feel your stress go up in flames along with your words.