Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bites of Happiness

Paris, August 2010. Indian Ganesh festival. *

I wonder if the purpose of life is not very simple: happiness. But perhaps we get lost in pursuit of constant pleasures, we get lost in hedonism, and miss the daily bites of happiness that we could experience. It seems that we are only happy retrospectively, we are only happy when we are reminiscing about past events and parties.

So now, I am trying to find the momentary happiness when faced with a situation to remember. Like today, my friend I. accompanied me to the Pretoria Stadstap Fotoklap, where people get together and walk around a specific part of the city taking photographs. The walk concluded on the top floor of the Hotel 224, which has a 360° view of the city. Everyone else was taking in the sunset through their lenses, and admittedly, I also captured some frames. But the best moment was when we distanced ourselves from the tripods and shutter noises and just looked at the city.

It is a sense of calm serenity. It is a sense of enormity and luck and preciousness of the moment that surrounds you. It is simply standing and seeing and appreciating the view and the company. Simply put, it is a bite of happiness.

The same embracing sentiment was experienced when we were in Wilderness. The others were doing Yoga, so I headed to the stairs that lead to the beach. Because of recent storms, these stairs were dangerous and one could only walk down to a certain bench in the middle of the dune, and not completely down to the beach.

I did not take my camera along, but it was the most marvellous sunset. Dolphin's peak and Victoria Bay disappeared into a mist. The sky was awash with berries, from the ripest gooseberries over to strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and Youngberries, it seemed as though a basket had spilled and Van Gogh had spread out the fruits' lifeblood to form a perfect sunset.

Gerard Manley Hopkins would have killed for such splendour, for "God's Grandeur" in this daily rotation of the world. The canvas of sea and mountain and mist and colour and waves and breezes was merging into one, was forming into a unity of all elements. It was a moment evoking transcendence. I wondered then if this was what Romantics like C.D. Friedrich were trying to paint in their works. If here was where God is to be found. If this is why people believe in more than earthly pleasures.

Perhaps it is not necessarily God. Perhaps there exists a deeper spirituality in nature which we, through years of city living and the stresses of a fast paced life, have lost track of. I do not feel part of these beautiful land/cityscapes, and maybe this adds to the disconnection from happiness. If one cannot sense a symbiosis with the moment of pure joy, there is no way one can appreciate it.

But this moment, this sitting on the stairs and admiring of berry-stained skies was what the being-in-awe of awesome describes, and it was perfect happiness.

* if you are wondering about the image, it is another moment of perfect happiness, when I randomly went to the Ganesh festival in the Indian "quartier" of Paris. Ganesh is known as the remover of obstacles and the Lord of new beginnings and also associated with wisdom. At the festival, devotees break great amounts of coconuts and then people just pick up the pieces off of the street and eat them. 

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