I still haven't worked out precisely what I want to say about the photo of Brenin and Nina at Inchydoney. Whatever it is, it is not what I thought I was going to say. So, here is some more preparatory throat clearing ...
This photograph provides a useful antidote to a certain way of thinking about happiness. We tend to think of happiness as an inner state or process: something that occurs on the inside. But in this photo, I'm tempted to say - defending it is a different matter - that you can see the happiness of these two friends. You can see it there in the exaggerated gape of Nina's jaw, and in the exaggerated bounce of Brenin's stride.
I suspect happiness is not an inner process at all. I like to think of it as a field through which we can walk. I'm trading on the ambiguity of the word 'field'. Brenin and Nina had the pleasure of running, pretty much like they are in this photograph, through many fields; Irish fields of barley and French fields of lavender. Their happiness would radiate out from them, reverberating across the open space - the clearing between us. But fields can also be things like electric or magnetic fields. Walking with these animals, I am immersed in a field of happiness; surrounded by it, enveloped by it. It is contagious. Happiness warms me from the outside in, not the inside out.
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