Lying on my back in the thick soft grass on the summit of Mount Brandon, Cnoc Breanainn in Irish, with my head propped up on my backpack, I watched the clouds and mountain mist drift over, around, and seemingly, through me. Other than the Raven that greeted me upon my arrival, there was somehow not another soul in sight or sound.

While the Dingle Peninsula below teemed with tourists, and the din and clatter of the world, I said to myself, to the mountain, to the sea, to the mist, to this time, and to life in general, “You are a lucky man.”

Lucky my legs can carry me to such places. Lucky my senses allow the submersion in, and the recollection of, these moments. Lucky my wife supports and encourages this rambling about in life, whether it be at one another’s side, or on one another’s mind. Lucky to have days that are my own to engage in life as I wish. Lucky.

Now that I’ve returned home, the sights, sounds, and experiences I had during my stay in Ireland seem so near, yet so far. So it goes. Home. After two-weeks of walking by day, and pints of Guinness and music by night, I was ready to come home. Home to my wife, to our house, to South Dakota, to the U.S. of A.

Some travelers come home from visits to other countries with thoughts of moving to those countries. Some come home with thoughts of how good we have it in this country. My thoughts are of the latter, rather than the former. We’ve got issues, every country does, but America is a pretty good place to call home.

For the first week of the trip I traveled solo, then my good friend Paul joined me for the second week. Why Ireland? Why that particular country three times in the past 12-years? It’s a big world with so much to see, but it’s the music that brought Paul and myself back.

The music that young and old know, share, and have an authentic enduring love for. The music that pub owners allow to continue deep into the night, long after they’ve locked the doors and pulled the shades.

There were a few nights Paul and I were lucky enough to find ourselves on the right side of those locked doors and drawn shades. Lucky enough to hear songs we fell in love with 20-years ago, sung by those that have known them a lifetime.

On these nights, if a lull in song occurred, I would sometimes ask someone, “What is your favorite song?” Or, “What song comes out of you most often?” Essentially, I was curious as to what song spills out unconsciously when it needs to, when they needed it to? As the Irish poet, Brendan Kennelly, wrote, “All songs are living ghosts. And long for a living voice.”

The response to these questions were never met with the mere title of a song, they were met with the song itself. Sometimes sung to all that had found themselves on the right side of the locked door and drawn shades, sometimes just to me, for me. A gift. Sometimes an Irish song, but just as often not.

A kindly gentleman in his 80s responded to my question by leaning towards me, closing his eyes, and softly singing just under the crowd, “Rows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air…” the song “Both Sides Now”, from Canada’s own, Joni Mitchell. Sung beautifully, straight from the heart. I can still hear him, and with any luck, I always will.

From the solitude atop Mount Brandon, chilled to the bone in the mountain mist, to a lively pub, warmed to the soul with song. A lucky man indeed.