Monthly Archives: April 2016

Formidable Joy

A busy few months and then (suddenly) spring

Had a long talk with a friend tonight

After one of those madcap days that was over as soon as it began

And sitting there long after the others had cleared out

The conversation veered toward deeper things

As is customary such nights

We shared a few stories and grinned at some

But shook our heads at others and sighed

It was clear (to both of us)

That this was the best it had been in quite some time (on many levels)

And that would normally be cause for celebration

But not everybody in our circles sees it that way

Which is one of the great mysteries in life

Let alone mid-adulthood (after many tough lessons learned)


So it was off to bed to see how the sun would greet us the next day

On the drive home I felt again how happiness is a choice (after a point)

And we should all be lucky enough to reach that fork

(I hope some of the others feel that too)

karl 3d

we drove huddled together in a VW hatchback

to see your arms flail rhythmically to synthesized music

in a former church outside Detroit

and there wasn’t a doubt that you were doing exactly

what you were supposed to when

you let your art wash over you


even the less-inclined could not resist your happiness

when you let the light in

and years later I still think about how much the rest of us

might feel if we could but just open the valves

and remember what imagination and love

for what moves us feels like

Another chance (every day)

So, in March I retire officially from scheduled shifts, making anytime I work “guest appearances.” It sounds good–I like it, people smirk. All good. 

Tonight: magic hour, 6 pm. Universal din-din time. Not bad. Crew is solid 3 out of 4, old-school dynamics in play, lots of synergy. Media and pop-culture references a’plenty. Time passes quickly. Job #1 wears me out, as nobody realizes that (most of us) we are all in it to help people. Thus, all efforts post-Job #1 should be filed under “extraordinary effort,” although it does not count for anything.

Then: eight o’clock, the final power hour. Easy orders. Easy smiles. A half-hour in, a couple comes in. They’re into each other, best-friend style, and it’s refreshing. Automatically, it’s Ashley and me by association.

Guy: youngish, semi-afro, REI shirt. Girl: tech gear, Pacific-Islander look. Neither are Yinzers, and it’s obvious. They order a local beer and a double IPA, split a sandwich, and I think, “This is not the normal run of things.” 

I get distracted by a few orders, then, after craning my neck for a better view of the parking lot, I ask Dana what beer they ordered. Parked slightly out of view out front is a maroon first-generation MDX, loaded for adventure. Bike tires peer out from the rear hatch, while a massive, overstuffed soft luggage bag strapped up top partially obscures a surfboard. The rear suspension sags under the weight of their cargo, and I realize that this is no ordinary road trip.

I place two beer bottles in a 6-lb bag, and write “Happy Trails!” in the middle as I tape it shut. I wait a little more than ten minutes for the couple to pack up, and then I walk around the corner and smile, placing the bag in front of them, saying sincerely, “I noticed your MDX is ready for adventure, and I can’t wait for mine to be. Good luck, and happy trails.”

Guy: (genuine, deep smile) “Aw, thanks, man! That’s really nice of you. We’re halfway there.”

Me: “I hope your adventures are everything they should be. Best of luck!”

They threw away their trash, smiled warmly and waved as they left. I watched them back out, then smiled at the gentle rocking of the Acura’s suspension as they drove out of the plaza parking lot. 

I thought about how every (single) day is another chance at happiness.