Moments of pure happiness

I watched three movies while flying to Boston earlier this week. The one that gave me some tasty food for thought was titled “Hector and the search for happiness,” a quirky movie about a well-off London psychiatrist who becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his perfect, predictable, boring and empty (in my opinion, of course) life. When he realizes that his patients are not getting any happier, he tells his girlfriend that he wants to travel around the world to discover what happiness is, what makes people happy. So he sets off on a rather bizarre journey that takes him to China, (somewhere in) Africa and finally to California.

There were a few things I didn’t like about the movie (the obvious stereotypes, e.g.), but I was much intrigued by a question asked towards the end by Christopher Plummer (who plays the part of a professor studying the effects of happiness on the brain)…something like: “who among you has experienced a pure moment of happiness?”

I almost didn’t pay any attention to the rest of the movie. I was desperate to sift through my memories to find out if I’d ever experienced any moments of pure happiness. “What if I’ve never had any?” I was absolutely horrified at the thought.

Luckily, I came up with many such moments (mostly associated with Stefano, the love of my life), but the first that popped into my mind was the very first time I was sitting on a cliff surrounded by puffins, those funny-looking, wonderful sea birds…almost impossible to describe the way I felt…a truly magical moment…total bliss. The Welsh islands of Skomer and Skokholm have given me — and Stefano, too, I think — many moments of pure and absolute joy, and that is why we keep going back there, year after year. 2015 will be no exception, of course…we already have a reservation…

Interestingly, most of my memories seem to be concentrated in the past nine years or so, that is, in the period following my diagnosis of smoldering myeloma (2005). That is when I began focusing less on my career and more on enjoying my life…

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