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On finding happiness/joy in the Michigan woods while whacking a golf ball

On the drive up north for the father-son golf trip, the conversation turned to last week’s Screencaps where I wrote about finding happiness and joy in one’s life. My father, who is now battling cancer for the second time in a year, was suddenly engaged in the subject and what I’d been writing about.

While my father has been supportive of my career path and this wild Internet ride I’ve been on for over a decade, it’s hard for a retired backhoe operator/bridge builder/grader operator/heavy equipment expert to comprehend putting words into digital form and turning them into content. My father barely knows how to use his phone and especially isn’t interested in texting.

Thursday afternoon might’ve been the most engaged I’ve ever seen him on a subject that I’ve tackled. Simply put, I told my dad that I’m of the belief people should be hunting happiness/joy as long as it’s not hurting society, their family or their friends. We’d barely reached northern Michigan and my dad had bought in. He was mentally preparing to ‘Do Hard Things,’ as Indy Daryl has written about.

We spent Thursday afternoon playing a Par 3 course with 100-foot drops and presenting challenges that my father had never seen on a golf course. I think it was around the third hole, the first vertical drop hole where Dad uttered, “This is awesome!”

And from there, it was something new around every corner:

• 72 holes of golf over 2 1/2 days

• 2 1/2 holes of rain

• The elusive birdie he’d been hunting down

• Legitimate pars (full integrity, no hit another, I didn’t see that cheating) on some of the most difficult holes of golf he’d ever played

• A memorable brisket crunch wrap

• BBQ chicken pizza while Iowa was coming back on Penn State

• My dad making friends with the resort staff while hunting down a plunger

• 360-degree scenery where you just spin around and it’s a suburban housewife’s fall photo dream

• Wild turkeys, deer, black squirrels, grouse

• Hitting second shots up a hill as a bride was preparing to walk out to get married on a ski slope with a twenty-mile view to the north

• Putting for birdie while pastor read the prayer

• We both tapped in for par

At no time did I ask my father about his situation. I never pushed more golf on him. I let him lead the way and the results kept coming back: “Let’s keep playing.” And so we kept going.

And by the end of it all, he was making sure I knew that he was available next summer if the guy’s golf trip needs an extra player. He’d found some serious happiness and joy even as there’s great uncertainty in his life.

We’ll just take this one day at a time. I know this morning he’s back to work and moving forward. Before he left my house Sunday, I gave him a TNML shirt. He made sure to tell me he would be wearing it Tuesday for league night.

• Now, I have to send out a huge congratulations to the A&M Screencaps readers. Dad and I missed an all-time classic by not making the trip and it just wasn’t meant to be for us this year. That said, it was awesome thinking about all the good people who write those emails to me who have a deep loyalty to that school. It looked like a triple shot of happiness running through veins as people poured onto Kyle Field.

• Aggie fan Chris B. in Houston writes:

I don’t know if you’ve watched this Astros / ChiSox game but my text threads are blowing up with conspiracy theories. Lots of balls & strikes have not gone our way, and the dude running the grass sticking his shoulder out to deflect the throw home was total bullshit. If I find a good vid of it I’ll send it.

Here is a pic one of my conspiracy theorist text thread buddies sent. A lame example, but I’m not enough of a conspiracy guy to try to find something better.

• I was watching the Astros-Sox game and knew right away I’d be hearing about the strike that wasn’t called. Now, I am not a huge conspiracy guy when it comes to baseball. I haven’t had a dog in the playoff fight enough to even believe in playoff conspiracy theories.

I have to believe the conspiracy guys are Texas fans who had to suffer through a brutal loss to Oklahoma and then watch the Sox save their season on a couple of questionable calls. That’s quite a bit for a fan to take over a weekend. Hang in there, fans.

• Sean K. writes:

I am sorry to again be getting in on this conversation late but had a piece of advice for Ms. Nolan re: work/life balance.

When things are not going well for me, whether at work or life in general, I grab a beer with my neighbor Al C. across the street. He’s 96 and stocks Yuengling Black & Tan in his beer fridge (my Irish taste buds are always happy with that!) .

Al is still sharp as a tack though a bit down as his wife of over 75 years passed away this summer. I’ve been having beers with Al since I moved to our neighborhood 17 years ago — he bought one of the first houses when they originally built this suburb in 1964. He’s the only original owner left that I know of.

Anyways I started having the occasional beer with Al because this guy spent his 19th birthday in the nose cone of a B-25 over Nazi Germany. He constantly tells me (when the subject comes up) that every day after surviving the air war over Germany is gravy, as he was never sure if he would survive. He saw a lot of friends get blown out of the sky. 

Thus our discussions give me a VERY heavy dose of perspective: to really treasure what matters. Al’s got a big extended family (7 kids, 8 or so grandkids, a couple of great-grandkids) and they visit him all the time.

Our discussions always snap me back to focus on my family and friends; not the ups and downs of work or life in general.

For me, just sitting and listening to veterans like Al C. or police officers, firefighters, EMTs etc. – the folks who really put their lives on the line for others – explain what they have gone through and go through every day makes one realize how fortunate the rest of us are, no matter our troubles. I’d also encourage Ms. Nolan to read some of the stories written by Salena Zito, who diligently chronicles what everyday Americans are doing to improve their communities. It’s a refreshing look at the real heroes of our society; not the overpaid athletes who wear a slogan on their helmet or uniform and then retreat behind the gates of their multi-million dollar estates.

Thanks as always for sparking these great conversations among the Screencaps community. I love reading the responses from everyone: they are far more insightful and thought-provoking than any of the pundits blathering on cable news, that is for sure!

Take care!

• Doug J. in Omaha writes:

Skipped mowing this week to follow your lead.  I hope you and your father had a memorable outing and we are all looking forward to hearing about it.  With all your northern Michigan talk, we finally checked Mackinac Island off our bucket list this weekend.  I pulled the girls out of school and hit the road early Thursday morning from Omaha. 

We waved at you as we flew past Gaylord, MI on our way to the top of Michigan.  Shout out to Captain Andy who rents out his boat on AirBnB for stays at Mackinac Island.  He met us at the dock, loaded our luggage and bikes and off we went.  We had our own personal boat to launch our adventures from for the weekend as we took our bikes around and through the entire Island. 

That place was amazing! No cars, lots of fall foilage eye candy, tons to eat and beautiful Victorian homes dotting the Island.  If you make it to this little slice of heaven, don’t miss out on riding your bike on Leslye Ave, stunning bicycle adventure.  Pure smiles and childlike laughter from my girls on that trail.  I made sure to show of my TNML shirt all day Sat., while we traversed every corner of the island. Can’t wait to go back!  Worth all the miles in our annual fall family road trip.

• And finally this morning, today’s post is late as my animal-loving wife rescued a German Shepard that was wandering the neighborhood. I had to take a 15-minute break as we tracked down the owners. Old boy Thunder was just out for a stroll. Now he’s back home to get a nap.

Have a great day,

Email: joekinsey@gmail.com

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Written by Joe Kinsey

I'm an Ohio guy, born in Dayton, who roots for Ohio State and can handle you guys destroying the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and everything associated with Columbus.

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