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Morning and afternoon moments of joy

I played golf yesterday afternoon with a man named John. We approached the first tee box about the same time, so he asked if I would like to join him.

Honestly, I didn’t. I had limited time before a business call and a departure to Boston, so I had planned to don my headphones, listen to Springsteen, and play nine holes as quickly as possible.

But I believe in saying yes, even when I would rather say no, so I grudgingly agreed, hoping against hope John was a quick player.

We were walking down the fairway on the second hole when he asked, “So what do you do for a living?”

Always a tricky question for me, given my basketful of careers. Teacher? Author? Consultant? Business owner? Performer? Plus many more…

But since I had just left school, I said, “I’m a teacher over at Wolcott School.”

“Wolcott School?” John said. “Plato Karafelis was the principal at Wolcott School years ago.” Then, he proceeded to extol the many virtues of my former principal and current friend.

This happens a lot. I mention Plato’s name, then sit back and listen to the accolades. Many, many people remember Plato, and they always have something positive to say.

I told John that Plato and I are still friends. I visited him on Whidbey Island with my family last summer. We’ll see each other again in January for three days of golf in Florida. I had just spoken to him this week.

By now, we’d reached John’s ball. He hit his second shot, turned to me, and said, “Matthew Dicks isn’t teaching at Wolcott School anymore. Is he? He’s probably long gone, too?”

I laughed.

“You’re playing golf with him right now,” I said. “And yes, I’m still teaching at Wolcott School.”

You can imagine his surprise.

It turns out John lives next door to a family I know well. I taught both of their kids years ago and have remained in touch with the parents and the children ever since. John had gotten to know me over the years through this family, remembering much about me and my teaching. More than I would’ve expected, given he had never set foot in my classroom.

He had also just finished reading one of my novels.

“In fact,” John said. “I think you and I played golf together about ten years ago.”

It turned out to be a delightful afternoon of golf. John and I had much to discuss and lots to share. On the fifth hole, I canceled my business call so I could finish the round with John undisturbed.

It was an afternoon to remember.

Nine hours earlier, at the crack of dawn, I had played the same nine holes before work. It was a foggy morning, so as the sun rose, the sky was spectacular.

Some of the best views I’ve seen on the golf course all year. An hour later, I entered my school with a spring in my step and joy in my heart.

I said goodbye to John at the end of the round feeling the same way.

Getting outdoors, exercising, meeting new people, and spending time in nature… I can’t recommend these things enough.