Thursday, December 9, 2010
This post is dedicated to Shirley.
When I was around fifteen years old, I came across Joseph Campbell's teaching, "Follow your bliss." I remember holding the magazine article, printed beside an image of two people paddling kayaks. I tried to show it to my brother, but he was not too interested. For me, however, it was as if something had just been shown to me, as if something had just been revealed. Upon receiving this information, my teenage worldview cracked, and opened a little wider. I stared at the kayakers, wondering, "Where are they going?"
What does it mean to "follow your bliss"? The three words speak for themselves.
Follow. This is an action word! It presumes we have choices, choices about what to follow, which way to turn, and when to stop. In any given moment we have infinite possible choices because we always have the power to choose our thoughts, and all actions begin as thoughts.
Your. This possessive pronoun implies you are someone, someone who has something. You have a truth, your true self. It is unique to you and it is yours.
Bliss. What a word! Beyond pleasure, beyond happiness, bliss dances in the realm of ecstasy. It is a breadcrumb trail leading to your highest destiny, your fullest potential, your truest self, your essence, the One.
Following your bliss happens each time you choose the path of truth, the way that feels right to you. No one else can tell you the way, as each person's path is unique to them. That is the beauty of it. There is no wrong way to follow your bliss. As you strengthen your relationship to yourself, you will know when you are off-track. And the path always welcomes you back. In fact, it may seem as if "invisible hands" are supporting you. As Joseph Campbell remarked, "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."
I have been following my bliss since the day I came across that article. My parents always told me that I could do "whatever I wanted to do," a message that gave me tremendous self-confidence. And, of course, I had heard the societal motto, "Follow your dreams." The problem, for me, was that I did not know my dreams because I did not know myself. One of the most frustrating things for me at that time was not having a means to get to know myself. I had no tools or guidance about how to look inside, how to assess my feelings, or how to intuit my destiny. Since I did not know what I wanted, I had no way to proceed. Once I was given the message, "follow your bliss," I suddenly had a map, a strategy for discovering my dreams. I began to listen to the voice in me saying "Yes!" and to follow its lead.
Twenty years later I now know that my bliss resides in helping people and the planet in my own small ways. My bliss lives in creativity and play: dance, collage, and photography. My bliss dwells in sharing teachings that bring people in touch with their own bliss!