Health | Wellbeing | Sustainability

The Pursuit of Happiness

Somehow for me that is molten glass

Dawn Nelson
4 min readAug 7, 2023


The Sunday Dispatch ~ August 6, 2023

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

Do what makes you happy, they say —

“If people did what made them happy, instead of what is expected of them, the world would be a much better place” — a fellow I met some thirty years ago who looked like Santa and had lived in California for thirty years before moving back to Michigan to share this bit of wisdom with me one fine morning.

Every so often I assess whether I am truly happy (read: daily). I find it incredible how often people have tried to dissuade me from doing what makes me happy in life. As if they somehow know better than I the things that bring me joy.

It’s odd really. What do they care?

I think happy people make other people nervous.

So back to my garden of content endeavors, which is what I shall report on this fine Sunday. This is a dispatch, after all, a happy journey of its own.

That’s right, as you read in the subtitle, what makes me happy is molten glass. Recycling glass, you see, requires up to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit in a furnace, depending on the type of glass and how much cullet (recycled glass) is incorporated (GPI, Why Recycle Glass?). To recycle this seemingly mundane resource, it must first be liquified into molten glass.

Who wouldn’t want to witness this fantastic reality?

So I stopped at the local materials recovery facility (MRF) this week to see if I could observe some of the process that prepares glass for the furnace. We have a robust recycling collection system here in my little Midwest city, but no furnace to melt the glass. The furnace is several more hours away.

So at the local MRF, the fellow in the hard hat was alarmed at my sudden presence as the facility doesn’t really seem to be open to the public beyond scheduled events. But he didn’t see me at first. It took a minute.

As I got out of my car, I observed the Caterpillar tractor (a backhoe loader, I believe) moving large industrial containers full of recyclable materials around the lot. This was my first…



Dawn Nelson

Artist, writer, strategist ~ writing creative nonfiction, memoir, essay. WIP: 0100 Series & The Sunday Dispatch.