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#14: Happiness

There’s a secret about life after death I’m hesitant to share. This confession may paint me as callous, uncaring, self-serving, greedy. Perhaps more negatively, it may suggest I’m unkind, or—worse yet—ungrateful. It may suggest a certain whimsicality I wish not to be associated with; it may suggest I’m intentionally forgetful, that I’m blocking unwanted memories. I hope I am none of these things, at least not when it comes to this, to what I have discovered, to what I am loathe to disclose.

There are happy days ahead.

There are happy days ahead, and sometimes they are ever-plentiful in number. Imagine: a string of happy days following a particularly challenging week; a leapfrog-leap from one cheerful lily pad to another, hop-hop-hopping along with contentedness. Anxiety washes away, sadness subsides, all of this making way for you to be you—for you to get back to you.

It is possible. And in some cases—you can will it.

I’m in my happy place right now, a fact I did not fully appreciate until I sat down to brainstorm what to write about on this particularly sunny day. I realized, upon running through my laundry list of ideas and starter lines, combined with earlier happenings from the day, how much of what I’ve written about—or intended to write about, based on the list—is depressing and uninspiring. Much of it is necessary, or at least I think it is, lest this entire book be rendered worthless. But there is a balance of hardship and struggle with positivity and peace that is necessary for survival—a requirement for living “after death”.

My happy place is a café in northern Michigan called Leelanau Roasters, in bohemian-ish Glen Arbor. A post-Memorial day weekday in June, the town is still sleepy, patronized mostly by the senior citizen set and occasional young couples or duos of Moms in leggings and pony tails from the nearby Homestead resort who have managed to find someone else to watch their kids for the morning. A mix of classic and folk rock fills the sunlit room I sit in—John Denver, Glen Campbell, The Band, Kansas, the Eagles, and of course Seger, so I know Mom is here, too. They are installing a new wood laminate floor on top of the black-and-white seventies-style tile—two days ago, the bathroom, and today, the front of the café where people wait in anticipation of that first sip of coffee. I am privileged to spend several weeks up on the peninsula a year; I look forward to these trips with fervor and unbridled enthusiasm for all of the things I will do and see and experience.

My list:

  • Driving along the coast of lake Michigan on M-22 with the windows down, blasting Bonnie Raitt, particularly “Angel from Montgomery”, Blood, Sweat and Tears’ “Joy to the World”, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and, strangely, “East Bound and Down” despite the fact I’m going west bound and north

  • Walking along the sparsely populated shores of Good Harbor beach at sunset—or any time, really

  • Building a sunset bonfire with my significant other and gazing out past the waves to the Manitou islands

  • Eating all things whitefish in Leland

  • Observing groups of elderly folks moseying in and out of tourist stores or chatting over coffee, and

  • Smiling at the sight of a dozen or so white hairs in light jackets and sunhats leaning over easels painting the rolling greenery at the M-22 turnoff to Pyramid Point

  • Hiking Pyramid Point and taking the time to absorb the majestic blue waters, steep dunes and quietude of Sleeping Bear national lakeshore before the summer rush

  • Golfing the old Sugarloaf course in Cedar

  • Reading on the balcony of our AirBnb condo overlooking the old course at dusk, which in June runs until nearly 10 PM

  • Cruising Old Mission Peninsula and admiring waterfront houses I’ll never afford

  • Sipping wine on the back patio overlooking Bluestone vineyards, a light breeze across my face

  • Writing in this coffee shop with the folk rock and the sunshine and the new shiny floors that represent change and openness to new beginnings, and being okay with that.

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