Sto­ries from a West Coast Town

Very qui­etly, very slowly, hap­pi­ness can take over a per­son’s life

Geist - - Geist - M.A.C. Far­rant


On Satur­day, July 9, 2016, Bud­dhist monks from the Great En­light­en­ment Bud­dhist In­sti­tute in Lit­tle Sands, Prince Ed­ward Is­land, bought six hun­dred pounds of live lob­sters from sev­eral es­tab­lish­ments around the is­land and re­turned them to the ocean, thus sav­ing the lob­sters’ lives. It was, the monks said, an act of com­pas­sion.

When she heard this, a woman from the West Coast was in­spired to res­cue the last At­lantic lob­ster from her town’s Save-on-foods, where it had been lan­guish­ing for sev­eral days at the bot­tom of a dis­play tank. She’d no­ticed it while shop­ping and wor­ried about its fu­ture. Now she had a plan. She pur­chased the lob­ster and car­ried it home in a pail half-filled with wa­ter from the tank. The next day she

shipped the lob­ster via Puro­la­tor, and at a per­sonal cost of $245, to her friend in Prince Ed­ward Is­land with the in­struc­tion that, like the Bud­dhist’s lob­sters, hers would be re­turned to the ocean.

“It’s a spir­i­tual thing,” she ex­plained to the lo­cal TV sta­tion when the news broke. “Some­times spir­i­tu­al­ity gets so struc­tured it doesn’t even feel like you’re liv­ing.”

It was a Puro­la­tor agent who tipped off the TV sta­tion. He told them the story “just trans­lated” for him and that he found it “real and soul­ful.”

“It’s an ex­am­ple of be­ing a lit­tle bet­ter than you are,” he said.


“I won’t lie to you,” the woman was telling her daughter. “There have been train wrecks. I’ve lived in sus­pended ado­les­cence for much of my life. But then, when I turned sixty, things started to calm down and a low-grade hap­pi­ness took over. I’m not sure why. Get­ting older maybe. Get­ting that big pay-out from your dad.”

“Don’t talk about Dad,” said the daughter.

They were hav­ing drinks in the Dock­side Pub af­ter the daughter’s shift at Star­bucks.

“Okay, but this is im­por­tant,” her mother con­tin­ued. “It’s some­thing you need to know. Very qui­etly, very slowly, hap­pi­ness can take over a per­son’s life. It’s hap­pened to me. Not a big kind of hap­pi­ness with stream­ers and bal­loons, more of a back­ground hap­pi­ness, like the music you hear on the Weather Chan­nel. “Se­ri­ously,” said the daughter. “When I hear that music,” the mother said, “I think: This per­fectly

de­scribes the way my hap­pi­ness feels. Light and kind of spacey.”

“The Weather Chan­nel.”

“Yes. And now when I no­tice other peo­ple, older ones like my­self, walk­ing down the street, go­ing about their busi­ness, and hav­ing these lit­tle smiles on their faces, I know they’re plugged into the Weather Chan­nel too. Ev­ery­one en­joy­ing the same kind of quiet hap­pi­ness that I am.”

“Well, he’s not happy,” the daughter said.


“Dad. All he ever does is come home from work, crack a beer and com­plain about the govern­ment.”

Hear­ing this caused the woman to feel slightly more happy than she usu­ally felt.

But in fair­ness to the girl’s fa­ther and feel­ing a lit­tle guilty be­cause she en­joyed hear­ing about her ex’s mis­ery, she said, “Nev­er­the­less, a happy woman like me can still find things to be un­happy about.”

“Like what?”

“Well, I’m very wary that I won’t last for­ever.”


“Just kid­ding.”


The young man wear­ing a black suit, white shirt and black scarf sat be­side his grand­fa­ther in Dr. Burns’s wait­ing room. Dr. Burns was one of our town’s few doc­tors.

“I’ve brought my own un­der­taker,” the old man told the wait­ing pa­tients.

The fat girl with the pink hair laughed. She was wear­ing a net skirt and sil­ver shoes.

“I used to play the ac­cor­dion at wed­dings,” the man said loudly. “But the ones who care about the polka are old and not danc­ing any­more. I was play­ing to empty floors.”


“What? It’s the truth!”

The grand­son looked away. “Fur­ther­more,” the old man said, “the world is run by thugs. It would be nice for a change if they saved peo­ple in­stead of killing them.”


“I’ll bet you’d like to know how I dye my hair,” the pink-haired girl said to the old man. She didn’t wait for a re­ply.

“It’s trial and er­ror to get the cor­rect shade. It’s some­where be­tween baby pink and hot pink. You couldn’t buy this shade in a bot­tle. You have to play with the mixes your­self. Not ev­ery­one can achieve these re­sults.” “What?” said the old man.

The girl raised her voice. “I said, not ev­ery­one gets the re­sults I get. My friend, Am­ber,” she con­tin­ued, “dyes one half of her hair pink and the other blue, which looks all right when she wears pig­tails but not so good oth­er­wise.”

She went on to say that her so­cial work practicum was go­ing to be at the food bank for home­less peo­ple. She was proud that she’d re­ceived the place­ment look­ing the way she did but con­cluded that one look at her would cause peo­ple to be happy and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

By now many of the wait­ing pa­tients were smil­ing. But not the old man.

He turned to his grand­son. “I’m too old for this,” he said. “Who do I have to sleep with to get out of here?”

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