Experiencing happiness – past, present and future!

Do you enjoy planning and looking forward to a special event with a warm tingle of anticipation, setting an intention for future happiness?  Do you look back over favourite photo albums, listen to music you loved in the past, or reminisce about joyful memories, and re-experience the positive emotions they evoked at the time?  Or do you live in the moment and focus on simply being happy in the here and now?  Perhaps it’s a mixture of all three!

I’ve been musing on these questions while thumbing through a copy of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe brochure – as usual, satisfyingly thick and crammed with temptations – while planning my annual visit.  I first went in 2005 and loved the bustling city so much that I vowed I’d return every August to make up for all the years I hadn’t.  Pondering which of my unmissable favourites I need tickets for, and which undiscovered delights I might be swayed by – hmm, man in koala suit playing the ukulele? – started me wondering what it would be like if we weren’t able to visualise the future or remember the past.    Continue reading

In Praise of Imperfection


Allow me to introduce you to the Happy Wolf!  There, you’re smiling already, aren’t you?

I met the Happy Wolf quite recently, on a visit to Leeds City Museum.  As soon as I saw this wonderful creation I burst out laughing, which was no doubt very disrespectful of me when confronted by a work of art dating from the 3rd century. It’s a large floor mosaic discovered in the Yorkshire village of Aldborough, depicting the legend of twin brothers Romulus and Remus. They were the founders of Rome, who were abandoned as babies but found by a kindly she-wolf, who fed them and saved them from death.

If you get the chance, do go see the Happy Wolf.  You’ll be charmed, like me, by her round button eyes and broad friendly grin (despite the rows of pointy teeth).  I love the coquettish way she crosses her front legs.  I love the fact that her hind-quarters quite obviously belong to another animal altogether.  I love that the artists didn’t even attempt to depict any fussy wolf-teat / suckling business in tiny pieces of coloured stone – and who can blame them? – but instead opted to show the twins joyously jamming together on air-guitars.  In fact, I love everything about the Happy Wolf.

I wonder how the mosaic-makers felt on the completion of this masterpiece.  Did they step back to view their hybrid wolf-cat-pony with a puzzled frown, a little crestfallen that something wasn’t quite right? Oh for a Tardis to whizz back a few centuries and reassure them!  I’d love to say, ‘Please don’t change a thing – you have no idea how much someone a couple of thousand years into the future is going to love her exactly the way she is.  I’ve even got her picture set as a screensaver on my computer . . .’  No wait, think that last bit’s tricky even with a Latin dictionary.   Continue reading