Find a place that makes you happy and go there.
Years ago, I bought a poster with this quote on it and hung it in my bedroom. I thought the quote was pithy. It had a picture of a quiet lane in a forest heading toward nowhere in particular. As I got a little older, I began to feel that the quote was trite, overrated and cliché. I left the poster up because I liked the picture, but the quote no longer had any meaning for me. I would look at it and think, “Yeah, whatever.” I wasn’t old enough to appreciate what real happiness was or what it meant when you found it. I certainly had never had the experience of “finding” a happy place, either within or without. I was a stupid teenager and didn’t think about much other than the fun I would be having in the coming weekend. When I left for college, I packed up my room. I took the poster down, probably intending to hang it in my dorm room, but somewhere along the line, the poster disappeared. I have looked for that poster since, and have found a few that have the same quote, but not THE poster. But I also discovered I didn’t need to have the poster hanging on my wall to be happy.
This quote came to mind last night as I was driving home. Not my house where I live with my family, but my “home”. I am “on vacation” in North Carolina and I could feel it as I crossed the state line. The tension began to drain from my body as came down through the mountains onto the piedmont. My senses came alive as I drove through Winston-Salem and drank in the sweet, sticky aroma of the cut tobacco. I was cruising along at 70 mph, crooning to Trace Adkins and felt that wave of joy wash over me. I thought about the quote, and actually had tears come to my eyes. Apparently, as I get older, I am becoming a sentimental old fool, but so be it. Seeing the Carolina pines swaying in the morning breeze cements it. I am here.
As I write this, I am sitting in my friend’s guest house, watching a deer graze outside the living room window. He bends down, nibbles at the grass, looks up and sees me watching him. I reach for my camera, and he freezes. Our eyes lock, and I focus. He stares straight at me, daring me to take his picture, and I do. I get ready to take another and he breaks our gaze, looks around, looks back at me as if to say, “I don’t think so, you’ve had your chance for today,” and gracefully turns and lopes back into the wood. In a little while, the rest of the world will be waking up and my activities for the day will begin, but for the next two minute and fifteen seconds, I am going to sit and listen to Dean Martin singing “Carolina In The Morning”. Welcome Home.