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A One Act Play at the Pharmacy

Yesterday, I was heading out the door to get my flu shot and Covid booster when my friend graciously offered to drive, shielding me from the torrential downpour in a way that my raincoat and umbrella simply could not. As my friend popped into a neighboring store, I sat in the pharmacy waiting area and observed the scene around me.

It was busy—or rather busier than I expected—and I was taken by the storylines playing out around me. I texted my partner, “I could sincerely stage a one act play based on the characters in this pharmacy right now.”

Without a notepad or book to engage me, I sat and watched discussions of coupons and vaccines and sons that were on their way to appointments but running late. Before long, my name was called and I shuffled to the backroom for my shots.

A few minutes and a few purchased toiletries later, I was standing outside waiting for my friend. And a few text messages after that, I was fully engaged in a spooky season shopping spree with her.

By the time we got home, my attention had turned from pharmacists and flu shots to pumpkin-shaped bath mats and chocolate covered blueberries. I’d all but forgotten how inspired I’d been by the pharmacy waiting area.

“I could sincerely stage a one act play…”

And maybe I could have.

But I didn’t.

And as such, the vibrancy of the pharmacy faded. Even less than 24 hours removed, I’m struggling to remember what exactly was so enticing about the coupon conversation… what it was that delighted me so.

As of next month, I will have been recording daily “Happiness is” for 12 full years. For all of my adult life. For over 4300 days. There are so many ways this has changed me. But the pharmacy reminded me of another way: by recording my joy, I commit it to memory. I slow the fade. I allow myself to feel that happiness over and over again.

When I look back at “Happiness is” from my teenage years, from college, from my first days in New York City, I am tickled by what made me smile then. When I see a “Happiness” about a specific event or moment, I only have to close my eyes for a beat before I am flooded with memory. Before I see joy in technicolor.

At my core, I am a writer first. I am a documentarian of not just my life and aspirations but of mundane things like pharmacy appointments and grocery lists.

And I am a recorder of joy. I’ve filled a dozen notebooks with happy snippets so that I’m never far from inspiration. So that I search for it each day. So that I find it everywhere.

To learn more about how you can get involved in chronicling your own happiness journey, visit

To view the online Happiness “bubble site” and for instant inspiration, visit


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