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Think Happy Thoughts

By Ron Signore

Being reminded everyday about the dichotomous political climate in the United States starts to weigh on me. After the 2020 election, it wasn’t long after that I dropped off Twitter, took a break from writing, and largely tried to stay in the shadows with all the happenings politically in the country.

We should all be glad for the resisting of exponential inflation effects that Bidenomics has provided. We should be happy that unemployment and job creation is the most it has ever been under President Biden. While those things all make me happy and optimistic in many ways, I reflected on the politically tied events that made me most happy: any legal battle taken to Chump.

Upon returning home from a business trip where a client of ours informed us she personally was leaving the country and moving to Canada due to our current political climate, and as a mother to girls, it made me think we need to be happier. Happiness is easier to dream about than achieving. This reality is demonstrated by the ongoing mental health crisis in this country. Is it a choice, or are we genetically disposed to being malcontent? That question sounds very similar to another political debate, but we will not go down that path today. Today, I choose to share happy thoughts.

Summer is a time of the year that many people can find glimpses of happiness. Sometimes, it is as simple as those hot sunny days that allow one to be at the pool or beachside. For some, it is simply that baseball is back in full swing, driving thoughts of hot dogs, peanuts, and cracker jack. Maybe it is the weather that allows for beer and barbeques. Whatever the reason, summer tends to bring out that little kid that is still in you. It’s a sign of hope for happiness. It’s an off ramp to the times that get you away from the everyday angst and disgust proven to us by our fellow neighbors.

For me, it’s a combination of nearly all of that, and then some. A kid at heart, I still love baseball season. A die-hard White Sox fan, which could arguably put me back on a highway to angst and despair, I find myself always watching and enjoying the game. I reminisce of the days that I was able to play ball. At the ripe age of 38, I am no longer physically desirable to play. At the risk of ever sounding like Al Bundy remembering his high school football days, where he scored 4 touchdowns in a single game, my home run trot was about full speed for me.

Several years ago, I made the decision to get back around the game. I traded in my bat and glove for a mask and chest protector and began umpiring for Little League. It is still competitive baseball, just from a different perspective. For instance, we are a volunteer organization, so with no pay, the competition aligns with earning top assignments all the way to the Little League World Series that airs in August on ESPN/ABC. I was proud that after 5 years, I was able to earn a World Series assignment for the Junior League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington last summer. Being around a kids game, and talented ball players at the same time, really destroy that notion of how old I have gotten age wise. I will say, the Asia-Pacific team that won the World Series in that division last year was some of the best softball I have ever seen.

There is another constant love for me that summer represents, and in recent years, became something enjoyable with my children included. The summer brings concerts. The joy of live music is a sober mental escape for me. I know many like to go to concerts for the party atmosphere. That has never been me. The sweet melodies, the intensity of the drumbeats, and all compiled sound of music in a live atmosphere is enough to forget the world for at least 3 hours.

This summer is really aligning to a great summer concert series for my daughters and me. It really all started a little over a year ago when my daughter decided to pick up a guitar and teach herself. I am blown away by her skill and ability to do so. No lessons, she plays incredibly sweet sounding, identifiable tunes. I do not know where she gets that talent from, but I am glad she has it. As I write this, I can hear her through the wall playing Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Story,’ which is one of many tunes she has mastered. I must admit, I am happier with that than I was when it was Taylor Swift songs. But this hobby for her has turned into a rabbit hole of learning great music.

Starting in June, she and I will be going to see Stevie Nicks, all because she heard ‘Landslide’ covered by Brandi Carlile. We will do our normal journey to Dave Matthews Band for two nights, of which she has her favorites, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t know she’s really going because she knows I like DMB. We will likely grab Foo Fighters tickets since she has recently found inspiration from Dave Grohl. I will tell you what I told her, and anyone that will listen, the world needs more Dave Grohls.

Her prize this year is combining a dream of mine and hers. We will be heading to Red Rocks in Colorado for Brandi Carlile. I love Brandi, I got to see her years ago open for DMB, but my daughter is driven and inspired by her, all she wanted was to see her somewhere. Her tour this year is limited, so I applied my dream of seeing a show at Red Rocks to the cause and voila, we have a masterpiece of a great epic weekend planned for us. There are very few things I like comparable to time with my kids. Put time with kids and music together… winner winner chicken dinner.

My other daughter is obsessed with soccer, so she and I usually go to women’s soccer games around the area. However, my youngest daughter also followed in her dad’s footsteps with loving Pearl Jam. She and I went to the theater premier for the release of their newest album, Dark Matter, two weeks ago. To give you an idea, she actually cried in September when our show we were going to see got cancelled due to the drummer getting Covid. She is anxiously awaiting the make up date in August.

These are times where we forget everything outside of those moments. The worries disappear (except maybe getting out of the parking lots after the shows). The peace of everyone from every aspect of life, even politically, can gather and enjoy the tunes and get lost in an environment that is mentally soothing. Summertime is that time for me. Thankfully, no matter the actual season, time with my kids is always summertime.

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