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Sometimes you find special pockets of happiness in life. They can come in all forms and varieties. Groups of old friends getting together to play their weekly card game. Looking over the latest news with your significant other. Maybe it’s just reading a book by yourself in a coffee shop. Perhaps I’m overly sentimental and romanticize the details, but I truly believe that you never know when happiness will surprise you. Also, let’s not confuse contentment with happiness. It’s much easier to go through the motions of life and be content with what you have, and that’s a wonderful thing! Happiness, however, that’s a unique feeling. Take the couple that was reading the news together earlier. They may have a routine lifestyle and get along just fine, but they may find that daily exercise of reading the news makes them happy. It’s a quiet moment that they get to share together and just be.
I went to Nashville recently for the first time ever. That was quite the experience. Everyone had tried to tell me some of what it was like to be there, but nothing could have prepared me for how insane that place is. It truly is an irregular city surrounded by a regular way of life. I was there on a bachelor party (go figure), and I estimate that 90% of the population in the city at the same time was doing the same. If you know anything about me it’s probably that I have acute social anxiety when mentally hurdling the idea of large crowds. I was nervous about simply co-existing with what seemed like 10 billion people; and for the most part I was fine. When you first touch down on Broadway, you’re instantly inundated with more bars and people than you can logically qualify in your head. For me, that was perceived as a white-hot flash of extreme stress. Luckily, the group I was with didn’t have the time to worry about how I was feeling in that moment. It sounds pretty heartless, but in that moment, it was exactly what I needed. The second we started moving I knew exactly what had to be done. I have to use my size to plow through these people. The bachelor leading the way, and my bulldozing my way through the hordes of bachelorettes. That filled me with resolve. That gave me purpose. That made me happy.
For those of you who have been to Nashville before, you’ll know that there are a zillion bars and most of them are 3 or more stories tall. Each floor has a bar and a band, and it’s hands-down the best music you’ve ever heard. These musicians looking for their shot admits the countless other musicians all doing the same. All with a grin from ear to ear, happy to have folks stop and enjoy their sounds even if all we requested was Wonderwall and Free Bird. Like most everyone else, we’re there to celebrate. We’re there to drink. And drink did we…
As a beer drinker/reviewer/part-time connoisseur, I’m ashamed to admit that I only drank 1 pitcher of a local pilsner. I don’t remember the name or anything else about it other than it was good. The rest of the day was consuming domestics en masse. I have to admit, it didn’t really matter what we were drinking that day. It wasn’t about the quality of the beer, but the company in which we were drinking. My friend was happy and that made me happy. Throughout the day of pushing your way through a crowd, or standing shoulder to shoulder with a stranger, we somehow found even more meaningful pockets of awe-inspiring moments. See, these 3-floor bars usually had a rooftop. And for the brave souls that dared to push deeper to the edges of these rooftops, they were met with a view – and a moment – that would live with them forever.
Nashville sits on the edge of the Cumberland River. It’s a densely packed city with a lot going on. Just across the river sits the massive Nissan Stadium – where the Tennessee Titans play. Again, perhaps its my love for romanticizing a moment, but that view stuck with me. Just as the sun was beginning to set, the stadium shone brightly, reflecting in the water below. Another small pocket of happiness to revel in. Just as the moment smiled upon me – we’re off. Another bar, another experience. No two the same. As quickly as the day began, it was over. Our bellies full of beer and our souls full of joy and laughter. Collectively our heads would hurt the next day, but that was tomorrows problem.
A lot of my friends are going through some really difficult times recently. I don’t think any of us really recovered from the Covid era – not mentally anyway. I know that I struggle worse and worse with anxiety each year, and keeping depression in check is a full-time job. Even as I write this, I’m battling depression. It took a lot for me to simply get out of bed and write this. But as I sit in the coffee shop and look around to the old friends playing their cards, or the couple reading the news together, or the man reading his book, I’m reminded that happiness doesn’t exist at all times every day. You have to listen closely for it’s quiet whisper.
To all my friends and family struggling – just keep listening for that whisper. Remember to find the pockets of happiness in your life. Together we got this. We’re never alone.