The Bird of Happiness

Before I left Australia a little over 4 years ago, I was working as an Admin Assistant for a large construction company in Brisbane. Each morning when I got into work I would turn on my computer and then have to twiddle my thumbs whilst it took 15 minutes to bring itself to life. After a few days of this I decided that, instead of just sitting and staring at the screen, I would learn how to do something interesting. I decided to learn some origami. So I used my phone to learn how to make the famous Japanese Paper Crane. Once I had learnt how to make it, I started to make one every morning to pass the time so as you can probably imagine, in the few months that I worked there, I had made a lot of Cranes. they lined my cubicle, my boss’ cubicle and began to expand outwards.

Japanese Origami Crane

The Crane is the Japanese symbol for peace, happiness and hope.

I continue to make the Cranes. Usually when I am sitting doing nothing I will find some paper, a napkin, I have even made them out of aluminium foil and till receipts. I find the act of make them quite meditative because it requires you to pay attention to each fold, and to make sure that corners are meeting in the right place. The success of the overall result is dependent on the preceding folds so each fold needs to near perfect and requires your complete presence. I think this is a good metaphor for achieving our life goals. We can’t simply set out to instantly make the Crane. You take it one fold at a time giving each fold your complete attention. Each individual fold creates the Crane.

The reaction from people when they see what I have made is usually of wonder and amazement. It brings some happiness to them. This is probably why the Japanese call it the Bird of Happiness. People that I have given Cranes to years ago often still have them. I remember one couple who came to the campsite I worked on one year seeing a Crane I made as they checked in and they asked if they could have it. I of course gave it to them. The following year when they returned to the site, they still had the same Crane on the dash of their Land Rover. I was amazed!

This has inspired me to start a photography project which I am going to call Sharing Happiness. I will make Cranes and leave them in public places, taking a photograph of them in their setting before I go. The idea, and the hope, is that when someone finds it it will bring a smile to their face, even if just momentarily, and deliver a sense of wonder at their discovery.

Follow the progress here.

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