by Dave Markwell

Last night, I had to make a drive that I did not want to make. Following another long day in an already long week, I was required to travel for three hours delivering my daughter to my lovely mother’s home. I had to do this when all I really wanted to do was sit on my couch. I was less than thrilled.

During our trip, my little girl was happy. She loves her grandma. She especially loves when her brother is not there. She receives my mom’s undivided attention and the doting and baking and loving suits her well. So, she was in a good mood and her joy pleases me.

On my solo return trip, following a brief chat and a hug from my mom, I traveled lightly. The traffic was light and so was my mood. I love road trips. I nestled into my seat and listened to whatever music I wanted. It was an unexpected, but welcome relief from my week’s worries. I like it when this happens.

As my thoughts meandered through my wandering mind, I felt the clouds lift. Too often it seems, we tend to mire ourselves in the thick mud of life’s challenges. The boiling cauldron of our problems seems to require constant stirring. And stir we do. We give vast amounts of attention to what is “wrong” with life.

On rare and precious occasions, in the steamy vapor of our boiling pot of problems, we smell what’s working and what’s right with our world. This is nice. In the midst of life’s challenges lies some gold. Always, the gold is there. We spend too much effort and attention stirring our problems and overlook the gold in the pot. Sometimes, to see it, we simply need to avoid focusing on the negative stuff.

On a lonely stretch of highway, with bare pavement and shadows of moonlight through the trees, the radio gods delivered a gift. It came in the form of the Eagles’ song “Wasted Time.” I love this song. One line is especially potent to me. As I sang, loudly, with no one in my truck to complain about it, I waited for some of my favorite song lyrics: “…sometimes to keep it together…you’ve got to leave it alone…”

I love these words. On this day, on this road, they were perfect. As I set my wooden spoon on the counter and stopped stirring my problems, I saw the smiles of my friends and family. I saw the good things I already have. I saw the soft moments when life is right. And I have plenty.

When we take a break, take a breath or sometimes take a drink, the problems fade away into their proper place. When we “leave it alone”, stop stirring and listen to the heart beat of our lives. We often find that it beats powerfully with feelings of peace and love and joy. These feelings sometimes hide in the bottom of the pan, but are always accessible, if we seek them and when we need them.

Arriving back home, with a tired mind and a happy heart, I finally made it to my couch. My problems lay on the highway’s shoulder, replaced by fond memories and hopeful dreams. These things are much more fun to think about. I think I’m gonna leave the other stuff alone for a little while…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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