Right to Pursue Happiness

Watch me paint this dolphin in 2 minutes (time lapse)

What is the pursuit of happiness? Does it mean simply “feeling” happy, or actively living happily? A dolphin in the wild is playful and enjoys following boats, showing off for human audiences. I loved meeting this delightful dolphin named “Fungie” when I was living in Ireland. Unless captured, a dolphin answers to no authority and is free to pursue happiness. Apparently Fungie liked hanging out with his human fans. It seemed like he was looking and smiling directly at me, and stole my heart!

But there is something horribly wrong when a human being feels less free than a wild dolphin. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” seems like a good declaration for independence, for sovereignty over our bodies and our lives, and for the promise of freedom to follow our purpose, talents, vocations, lifestyles and dreams.

When governments and their “activist” proxies cancel some people but not others, when laws apply to some people but not others, when some of us are “essential” and others are not, when some of us can breathe free while others cannot, when some of us can travel, but others cannot, when some of us can work or go to school without restriction, while others cannot, are we free to pursue happiness? Have we declared our independence? Instead of looking wistfully at us from behind a glass aquarium wall in captivity, perhaps a wild dolphin observes us looking at him wistfully… wishing we too were on the other side of captivity.

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“Fungie the Dolphin”

Watch Natalie paint this art, and all 50 oil paintings in this collection (menu below)

“This very playful and marvelous creature is a dolphin named Fungie. I met him on a boat tour in Dingle, Ireland. He loves showing off for people. He is quite a character, well loved by locals and tourists. Delightful! The Irish are hilarious. As it turns out there’s only ONE dolphin to see on the Celtic Sea dolphin tour. They literally meant “dolphin” tour. Fungie got lost one day and now lives there.

I was living in Ireland in 2016 with the hope of staying for at least a year. Unfortunately I had to cancel my art show because I couldn’t get a “permission to remain” visa. I was sad about this, as it had taken a lot of time and effort to make the art show happen, and my family had our hearts set on staying. Two of my children had received scholarships for the university in Cork.We’d also never lived near the sea before, and it was a healing and life-changing experience. Seeing Fungie was my first time seeing a dolphin in the wild, which was my dream come true! So, when we returned to the Midwestern United States, land-locked, and ocean-less, I didn’t know when or if I’d ever see another dolphin outside of a zoo.

God moves in mysterious ways, and a little over a year later, I was on another dolphin tour, on an ocean that… if we could see clear through to the other shore, we could almost see Ireland. On the Tybee Island dolphin tour, I saw several dolphins, not just one. They usually traveled in pairs and chased the boat. I’ve also seen dolphins while at the beach. I love dolphins so very much. The excitement from seeing them never dims.

Fungie the Dolphin oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas

List of Oil Paintings in this Collection, linking to their pages here on the site, and also citing physical pages in the hardcover book:

  1. City of Savannah
    1.1 “City of Savannah” page 6-7
    1.2 “Natalie at the Fountain” page 8-11
    1.3 “House in Savannah” page 12-13
    1.4 “Guardian Lion” page 14-15
    1.5 “Autumn Angel” page 16-17
    1.6 “Steamship Savannah” page 18-19
    1.7 “Boiled Peanuts for Sale” page 20-21
    1.8 “Bulldog” page 22-23
    1.9 “Serenity Piano” page 24-25
    1.10 “Painting Colors” page 26-27
  2. Tybee Island
    2.1 “I Love Life” page 30-31
    2.2 “Living Sand Dollar” page 32-33
    2.3 “Matthew the Sea Turtle” page 34-35
    2.4 “Fungie the Dolphin” page36-37
    2.5 “Angel Releasing Dove” page 38-39
    2.6 “Flag on Tybee Island” page 40-41
    2.7 “My Kids at the Beach” page 42-43
    2.8 “Lighthouse near Tybee Island” page 44-45
  3. Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians
    3.1 “Gator and Snake” page 48-49
    3.2 “Tree Frog” page 50-51
    3.3 “Lizard” page 52-53
    3.4 “Blue Heron” page 54-55
    3.5 “Hummingbird” page 56-57
    3.6 “Painted Bunting” page 58-59
  4. Flowers and Trees
    4.1 “Pink Flower” page 62-63
    4.2 “Porch Flowers” page 64-65
    4.3 “Clover” page 66-67
    4.4 “Butterfly Tree Flowers” page 68-69
    4.5 “Savannah Tree” page 70-71
    4.6 “Dancer in a Floral Forest” page 72-73
    4.7 “Come to the Garden” page 74-77
    4.8 “Cherokee Rose” page 78-79
  5. Faith and Food
    5.1 “Floral Cross” page 82-83
    5.2 “Lenten Flower” page 84-85
    5.3 “Celtic Cross” page 86-87
    5.4 “Mary of God’s Favor” page 88-89
    5.5 “Lion and the Lamb” page 90-91
    5.6 “Breakfast with Friends” page 92-93
    5.7 “Peaches in a Bowl” page 94-95
    5.8 “Peach Cookies” page 96-97
    5.9 “Peach Pie” page 98-99
  6. Seasons and Weather
    6.1 “Pumpkins and Mums” page 102-103
    6.2 “Autumn Cottage” page 104-105
    6.3 “Spring Lambs” page 106-107
    6.4 “Peach Tree Hurricane” page 108-109
    6.5 “Eye of the Storm” page 110-111
    6.6 “God’s Promise” page 112-113
    6.7 “We Gather Together” page 114-115
    6.8 “Savannah Snow” page 116-117
    6.9 “I Believe in Santa” page 118-119