Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness

Mont St Michele

On a Thursday, as I have told you in an earlier post, I meet my friends. Depending on the weather we walk and then visit the local fishmonger, then relax in each others company, have a chat and an ale. It is a great afternoon, we never seem to run out of conversation, and I always leave feeling happy. It is a simple afternoon and it generates its own happiness. 

I was thinking of this after over-hearing a number of conversations. The first was a mother. She was bemoaning that as hard as she tried she could not longer bring back the happy times they all used to share together. “No matter what I organize it is always the same,” she said. “They always have things to do and places to go.” 

Hankering after the old days she is missing the joy and happiness of watching them become free beings in their own right. 

The second conversation was a friend complaining that he need a new mobile phone. “Why? “ I asked. “This one is out of date. I hope the next one lasts longer.” The phone he had was at least a year younger than mine, but he had to be up date with all the latest gizmos. 

In reality, both of these conversations were about the same thing. Let me explain what I mean.

If we have a scooter we want a cycle, if we have a cycle we want a car. If we have a car we want a bigger or better one. The list is endless. And so is the pursuit.

I remember workmate who, the minute they got promotion began talking about the next step up the ladder. Or when they had been given a pay hike it was not bringing him any closer who his friend who had also had one. Again the list is endless as is the pursuit.

Even on the emotional and relationships front, our relationships are evaluated on the basis of how many visits, how many phone calls, how many invitations one gets and gives. We seek to create a perfect family of always smiling people around us, and are disappointed if things are not picture perfect. Yet again, the list is endless.
And so is the pursuit.

The pursuit of happiness. This is a well-known and well used phrase. Yet it is in fact a strange term. It in fact makes no sense at all. 

Like many oft-repeated phrases, one repeats it mechanically but it makes no sense whatsoever.

Happiness is not an object or person that can be pursued. It just is.

In fact, perhaps it is this very phrase that is often the seed of much discontent and unhappiness.

The new phone, car, are all part of the pursuit of happiness. 

As I ran this morning I was thinking about these conversations and my own pursuit of happiness, and the next better artwork.  As I reached the 6 mile mark it all seemed to fall into place.

When you pursue happiness, it eludes you. However, when you recognise that happiness is the inner beings natural state, all you need to do is eliminate all that comes between your happiness and you.

I think I need to read that again and again in the next few days. Is it complex or complicated? Not really. 

Todays artwork is the finished Pen and Ink of Mont St Michele. I did take a picture of a stage between the first one and this one but decided just to share the finished work. I wondered long and hard about adding the colour. Too late now to change my mind. 

I have some very fond memories of this place and the visits I made here with family and friends. 

Sadly like so many places the little streets leading up to the magnificent cathedral at the top are full of little shops all selling the same things. 

What next? I think maybe back to a canvas. 


  1. I just love this drawing, Ralph. I only see such places in Europe and they are so stunning in their years. Agree with you on the happiness.

  2. A great post, Ralph. I know it is true...whatever we have we want more. I must agree about the phones, especially! It seems weird that everyone needs such deluxe communication. I love this drawing/watercolor. It is fabulous--!

  3. Very nice drawing! It really draws the eye in. And your post is right on with the pursuit of something more when so many times we just need to recognize that happiness is inside each of us and not dependent on things.

  4. Your words ring true, Ralph. I think of it as the "if only"s. "If only I had a better job, then ..." "If only my husband/wife would appreciate me more, then ..." All of that thinking puts us in a state of discontent about the present and sets us striving for something in the future. Live well today. Seems like you do.

  5. Beautiful artwork, Ralph, with just the perfect amount of color with your lovely ink drawing. I always get too much color which overpowers the ink lines, I think. And your post is so true - thanks for the reminder!

  6. I'd seen this weeks ago and have no clue as to what happened to my comment. but this is what you should be doing ... Your very good with drawing and the color adds to the overall feeling..

    1. So sorry Barbra but this is not one you have seen before. I only did this one the other day.

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