Sources of joy

Keeping a small personal record of experiences, people, places and things that bring me joy is one of the chief reasons for the existence of this blog. In 2021 the magical city of Edinburgh has been a source of almost unquantifiable delight. It’s a place where it is – quite simply (and yet, of course, profoundly) great to be alive …

I will leave the light on

Photo by ROHAN KULKARNI on Unsplash

I will leave the light on

Tom Walker

I think this is a wonderfully striking photo. It immediately reminded me of Tom Walker’s image of a house on a hill ‘guiding like a lighthouse’

The light left on here is probably accidental – but a happy one in terms of imagery. Which car are you drawn to? Which appears to have some life about it? Which might you expect to be warm inside?

Can we leave our personal light on? On purpose?

Yes, everything

Photo by Alex Gruber on Unsplash

click on all images once / twice to enlarge

They said ‘You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.’
The man replied, ‘Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.’

Wallace Stevens
The Man With The Blue Guitar

I’m slightly coy (I don’t know why) about admitting that since yesterday’s post I’ve continued hour upon hour to be entranced by the idea of the imaginable – of design, of Galway Kinnell’s ‘everything flowers from within.’

I mean, imagine repeating that to young children, from as early as possible: that what comes forth from people’s imaginations – their own ‘designs for life’ included – are, literally, among the great wonders of the world.

And then imagine that being repeated in adult lives, over and over again, a repetition that would forever stretch their own imaginations: that you continue to have endless possibilities for creativity, in every second of your life, if you will hear the sometimes quiet voice of your imagination.

And then imagine really believing this yourself / myself. The thought sets heart and mind and soul alight: indeed our very bodies react to it. We know that our capacity for imagination is without limits – and we want to get on with the creative business of imagining some more.

Every single image in this carefully curated collection today contains dozens (at least!) of design elements that started out life in imagination, human, or that of The Great Imagination, flowering from within.

If you’ve time today, or in the next day or so, make a cup of something you love. Sit down with it and then spend a couple of minutes with each of these photographs. What’s going on in your imagination as you stay with them? Can you feel energising welling up? Warmth? Wonder? Delight? Which stir you most? What sights, sounds, people, animals, come to mind? What new moments are you going to design, to bring into the light, by the time you’ve finished your hot chocolate? May the joy of your own design flower from within you – today.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
Photo by Ally Griffin on Unsplash
Photo by XPS on Unsplash
Photo by Gabs | Artist on Unsplash
Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash
Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash
Photo by Alessandro Bianchi on Unsplash
Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

The bud stands for all things

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers from within

Galway Kinnell
St Francis and the Sow

Morning mist and sharp frost, keeping company with the Moon set in a deep blue sky. I’m glad I remembered my gloves. And I notice the life-channelling veins in leaves, and berries galore, and toadstools, and that a pheasant in the field appears to be meditating. And buds. I notice buds: now, at this time of the year, on this frosty Autumn morning, as though certain elements of life simply can’t wait to get on with living – risk of being nipped notwithstanding.

I took off a glove and hovered my warm hand over the ice crystals settled on one of them – I don’t know what kind. The ice melted, of course, and I wondered and wondered about how ‘everything flowers from within.’ And felt very tender …

As Galway Kinnell continued:

… sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within …

The bud stands for all things … everything flowers from within.


… to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion

Fleur Adcock

Yesterday, 10 degrees Celsius. This morning, a bracing, mind-clearing 2! But bracing and mind-clearing are good things, aren’t they?

It’s good to be awake enough to notice the changes that the passing hours, in every day, in each season, bring. There’s so obviously a ‘designed’ purpose and intent in the innumerable cycles of life and death on earth, and in us – mind, heart, body and soul.

It’s also true that most of us – all of us? – are less keen on the bracing elements and the ‘dyings’ in the midst of life; less keen on the being blown about – sometimes even brought to the ground – by capricious winds; less keen on shock or surprise; less keen on streaming eyes and having forgotten our gloves; less keen on ‘Weathering.’

But the thing about a bracing morning is that our minds are cleared sufficiently to recall that there’s actually extraordinary beauty in the right here and the right now, and – beyond this season – that Spring will come …

Somewhere …

Mildly chastising myself for being out and about later today – and having missed my sunrise walk – suddenly, in the way of these things, this came into view. And all the mind chatter was hushed.

‘Ours is not to reason …’ And indeed, always – and happily – there’s a new ‘Somewhere …’

And later in the day: another ‘rainbow’ …

Rounded or sharp?

Joy isn’t some superfluous extra. It’s directly connected to our fundamental instinct for survival. On the most basic level – the drive toward joy is the drive to toward life

Ingrid Fetell Lee

Within the space of an hour last evening I was in touch with two friends who were observing the Moon. One on the other side of the Atlantic – planning to set a 3am alarm in the hope of seeing the longest partial lunar eclipse in 600 years, and the other North of me in the UK, moon-watching through the winter-limbs of a favourite tree.

And I was here, pondering the effect of la Luna upon vast ocean tides, and upon me … ‘peace …’, ‘strong but gentle pull’, ‘mellow light’, ‘sonata’, ‘spaciousness’, ‘awareness of the here and now’, ‘conscious, though inexplicable, delight.’

Are you drawn to the sharp and angular? Or to curvy, colourful, expressive, soft and round? How, for you, does joy look and sound? If any of these questions are of the slightest interest to you, when and wheresoever you may be, please meet Ingrid Fetell Lee – and keep on meeting, as often as you may need …


see also: Joyful: the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness : Ingrid Fetell Lee