I did not know this until today. In 2012 the UN endorsed the 20th March as Happiness Day or International Day of Happiness. Unknowingly, I had endorsed this principle in my own life but as a few minutes in every 24 hours. I have spent years cultivating a mind framework that nourishes my spirit in a way that I find happiness every day in some form or another. I’ve searched and finally found the right guidance and tools, for me, to achieve this.
I had never owned a camera until a few years ago. I did not understand the technicalities of light, shutter speed, etc. I still don’t. Digital cameras have made taking a picture easier and I am still a novice. What I did not need to learn, was already in me. I am an instinctive and intuitive photographer. And, there have been many, many moments that still bring joy to me.
Let me share with you a few.
I had finished work in Esperance and wanted to catch one last look at the surf at West Beach. It was a gloomy, overcast day. Weather is often changeable in Esperance. Not to enjoy the fifty shades of blue in the waters in this area, can be a disappointment. On this evening, cresting Twilight Beach Road, I saw the sun set beyond. It was fleeting but a moment of pure magic.
I have learned not to be arrogant in my attempts to photograph grand landscapes. Like the kind one finds up north in the Kimberley region. The vast, immense land is humbling. This is ancient land. Sacred ground. I did make a feeble attempt or two but now acknowledge my limitations as a photographer. A return to the region will be to hone my skills.
I have discovered delight at my feet when walking the sands of Cable Beach in Broome and among the clear pools of the mangroves of Cygnet Bay, some 200 km north of Broome. The carpet of French knot embroidery left behind in the sand by tiny crabs is worth discovering. It is always a surprise because they appear magically. Or not. They remind me of my school days when mastering the intricacies of a French knot was a special achievement and once learnt, I found reason to embroider them repeatedly. They are my favourite stitch to embroider. Finding a boab tree in sand always make me smile. They are a tree that I love (and more on them in another post).
I have also found delight in photographing seagulls. I love their stance, their profile, their attitude. They portray, perfectly, a line from the book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’, “To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing you have already arrived”. Seagulls walk like they have arrived! I’ve learned, over time, visualisation is powerful. To think you are happy, makes being happy effortless.
My camera has taught me to appreciate the austere land of sheep country in the Midwest, as much as the brilliance of a sunset on Cable Beach, Broome. The beauty of a passionfruit flower that morphs into a fruit, eagerly sought for its tangy sweetness, when shrivelled and beautiful no more. It makes me an optimist.
When home I have found things that catch my eye in the garden. The rainbow lorikeets visit every day. The mulberry tree, when in fruit, is a favourite stop over for them. At other times, they forage the new leaves off other trees. Or the early morning sun light filtered through a leaf gives me new perspective.
With a house that has been under renovations for two years, frequent travel helps me cope with the chaos better than if I was living at home full time. In the areas where the renovations have been completed, I still despaired. Then, I discovered the art of declutter, the Japanese Kon Mari Method. It has changed my life. The philosophy is a simple one. Keep what brings you joy. I started using the method in the kitchen pantry first. Months on, it is exactly as I organised it. That is quite a feat in itself. With young adults who come and go, this is even more remarkable. I apply the Kon Mari Method to memories, too. I keep what brings me joy. It has created a treasure trove for happy hunting and worth foraging on days when the sunlight dims.
I make the effort to nurture friendships that are meaningful to me. In these days of technology, this is not hard to do. I have re-established contact with friends from my early primary school years. Time has stood still for those friendships. We laugh and talk with the ease like having played in the school yard yesterday.
I am nurturing to those who, I feel, need my understanding far beyond what I thought I was capable of. Being genuinely empathic of their journey is the best part of me I can give them. Their recovery to a happier state is an accompanied journey, and I am happy to be a fellow traveller with them.
Others have walked away from me with questions unanswered. I have come to believe they are taking their own journey towards happiness when they did.
My faith is important to me. It is an intrinsic part of my thinking and way of being. I don’t preach it. I am not skilled at it, so I practice it. I live it. It works for me. Everyday.
On this day when we celebrate happiness, may you find, as the saying goes, happiness is not a destination, but a journey. I am enjoying mine. And, happy travels to you, until we meet again.
a dawn bird