Thursday, February 16, 2012

Follow Your Bliss

Chungliang Al Huang from pat solomon on Vimeo.

I am a big fan of Joseph Campbell and have been since the very first airing of Bill Moyers' earth shaking interviews with him in The Power of Myth nearly 30 years ago.

Watching the Moyers video again this morning, I caught the comment that Campbell makes about transformation of consciousness... "You're thinking in this way, but now you have to start thinking in that way. Right now is feeling like one of those transformational moments to me. As Al Huang comments in the clip above, it "may take some time for you to find it [your bliss], but that's what you need to do."

The confusion over the concept of "follow your bliss" has always been kind of amusing to me. On the one hand there are the people who take the phrase, not only literally, but sort of fundamentalistically. They advocate the idea that it's essentially the same as saying "Do What U Wanna" which is a GREAT tune for a second line (and oh how I miss the second lines!) but it's not really great as a philosophy of life.

It's also NOT what Joseph Campbell was saying.

The other reaction to this perspective tends to come from the opposite side, taking extreme exception to the idea that people just want to "follow their bliss..." doing any thing that feels good at the time. Or to quote an old saying from the 60s, "If it feels good do it."

That's also NOT what Joseph Campbell was saying.

What he WAS saying, is both obvious and profound.

Bill Moyers asks, "What's the journey I have to make?"

Campbell responds by saying, "Follow your bliss... find where it is and don't be afraid to follow it."

He expands from there, but the point is clearly that "follow your bliss" is the WAY to find what you are supposed to be about. It's like the "follow the money" line in All The President's Men. Watch closely the trail... see where it leads.... The path itself will tell you what's going on and what you need to do.

What do you really love? What excites you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What is your answer when you look in the mirror, as Steve Jobs suggested, and ask yourself if what you're planning for the day is something that would be satisfying if it was your last day on earth.

For me... in the passage of the last several years (and especially the last eight months) I've been digging deeper into the excitement and love I have for certain ways of being and certain things I think and feel and do. As Al says above, it's taken me a long time to catch the through line, to truly "follow my bliss." To watch the way things go... to see what makes me laugh and smile and fall in love with being in the world. And I - to my great disservice - give up the path easily and often. I don't trust the basic feelings at my core. I let the dragon slay me (to use Campbell's metaphor) rather than slaying the dragon.

I am once again at a place where I am seeking the courage and the strength to stay on the journey down... to figure out exactly what I... "need to do.

My life depends on it... According to Campbell, all our lives depend on it; the very fate of the earth depends on it.