It was early morning. I headed out my driveway for the road that winds up Old Tampa Bay in Safety Harbor, FL. I was on my way to a dance class, recently featuring the music of some of my favorite R&B artists. Dance had been a lifetime dream and now, in some oddly arranged way, I’d been finding hours each week to immerse myself in this wonderfully expressive, artistic past time.
My heart was already happy, grateful to be living a simple life punctuated by warm weather in the middle of winter. Sunshine and palm trees along the drive paid homage, but sounds and lyrics bursting from the car radio brought me to a happier place still.
Stevie Wonder’s 1966 Motown hit, A Place in the Sun, completed my morning reverie. It echoed something deep within me from as far back as I can remember . . .
‘Cause there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun
Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how much that song sung of my heart. Maybe I’m a non-conformist, but I’ve always believed in A Place in the Sun. From earliest childhood, A Place in the Sun was a real locale, even if at times seemingly distant from my experience.
Growing up, I felt the beckoning of Florida’s sunny beaches during cold New Jersey winters. But the essence of such a place eclipsed natural geography. I wasn’t merely seeking freedom to brush my bare feet through the sand or wade effortlessly through sparkling waters. I was looking for the serenity and simplicity that this lifestyle appeared to offer.
Through fortuitous circumstances, my husband and I relocated to Florida three decades ago. Never once did I look back. We both love it here; it’s been our home. It’s also my place in the sun in ways far more profound than the obvious.
In life, I’ve played many roles: I’ve been a student, grad student, wife, career woman, home schooling mom and of late, publisher, author and entrepreneur. As I navigated through each role, my underlying compass has been fixed on an inner place. It was a spot in which I could find personal peace and plenty to smile about. My goal was a state of happiness.
There are many things we seek in life. Some we run after with a vengeance; others lure us in ways quite subtle. My heart, however, could only be satisfied by A Place in the Sun. That morning on the way to dance, I had already arrived. The sun wasn’t just shining outdoors: it was radiating within me as well.
Count me in with Motown’s Stevie Wonder, the blind boy who in 1966 was sufficiently wise to perceive what natural eyes could not. Assuming he’s still singing the same tune today, Stevie and I will be waiting there for everyone else to join us at. . ..
A Place in the Sun. Chances are good we’ll all be dancing!
For Maura Sweeney’s Amazon book series, click here for The Art of Happiness.