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It’s 5:00 AM. Vacation is over. We leave to return to Michigan in a few hours.

When we arrived here in Florida a little less than two weeks ago, I had a terribly painful knot in a muscle to the left of my spine near the shoulder, the kind that can steal the wind from your lungs for a moment just by turning one’s head. It lasted for about three or four days before finally loosening its grip.

It came back to me last night. This morning it is in full bloom.

Jen insists it’s stress related. I used to argue this, but not anymore. I felt it grab me when I started sharing with her all that I’d be walking back into the very moment I stepped from the plane. I suppose a huge part of the problem is that I Ieft too many things undone. For example, I always have a sermon to preach the Sunday I return from vacation, and I usually get it written a few days before departing to my happy place. But not this time. Like so many other things, I didn’t get to it.

This leads me to another point.

Before leaving this year, I committed myself more intently to the advice of well-meaning friends who said, “Get done what you can, and then go. Everything will still be here when you get back.”

True. But bear in mind that we live in a time that sees crises added to my “everything” on a daily basis. This year, just as in past years, within minutes of fastening my seatbelt for the ride to the airport, I’d already been pummeled by a handful of voicemails and private messages from a few of the usual suspects demanding my immediate attention. And sure, it’s easy enough to say you’ll get to them when you get back, but that doesn’t change the fact that they dropped the concern on you, and now it is perpetually hovering in the background in an unmanageable state—often getting worse as it festers.

“Get done what you can, and then go. Everything will still be here when you get back.”

No offense, but I did that, and now it feels like bad counsel. Again, it’s well-intentioned, but it’s the kind of send-off that’s easy to give because it costs the giver nothing. Had the person giving it been required to manage these details of my life while I was away, I can all but guarantee they would’ve made sure I’d finished the sermon, dealt with certain people, and completed particular projects still stacked on my desk before leaving. They’d have made sure I went into my vacation as close to zero-responsibility as possible.

Thinking on this, I once heard someone say in relation to stress that when we actually meet our devils, they’re never as we expected them to be. Whoever said that needs to be smacked with the mug he had the stupid phrase printed on for his office mates. That’s what it feels like just shaking hands with my devils.

And by the way, the mug needs to be filled with scalding hot coffee.

Of course, if he had the phrase printed on a whisky glass in hand—and the glass happens to be holding a portion from the second batch of The GlenAllachie 10-year-old Cask Strength edition—spare it and use your free hand. I guarantee you’ll regret spilling it, and you’ll likely end up with a second stress-knot on the other side of your spine.

This is an exceptionally calming dram, the kind you wish you had a holster on your belt for holding the bottle.

The nose is unarguably a draft of warmed butterscotch. I don’t care what anyone else says. It’s warmed butterscotch. And who finds it impossible to relax while sniffing warmed butterscotch? Your devils, that’s who. So keep it close.

The palate reveals that cinnamon has been added to the butterscotch. A few sips into the dram’s thickness and the butterscotch steps back into the forefront as most prominent, perhaps guarded by a few sentry sensations that are floral in nature.

The finish of this remarkable whisky just barely tips from medium to long, leaving traces of citrus and spicy malt as it goes.

Too bad I can’t get a doctor to actually prescribe as a stress-relieving measure the holstering of this delightful elixir to my belt. I would abide by that advice without question, taking it with me into the tasks of a typical day. I can tell you right now that my interactions with the more nefarious humans among us would be far different. A completely different pall of emotion would cover a scene in which someone is pulling out all the stops on his or her pastor as that same clergyman listens with a serene stare while leaning back slightly in his chair and holding a half-filled glass of liquor in his hand. With each casual sip taken during the rant, the person would almost certainly find his or herself a little off balance, wondering at the appropriateness of his demeanor.

Or perhaps it would be a moment for you to become more attuned to the appropriateness of your own.