If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time ( Joseph Campbell as quoted by Dr. Nico Rose in “Following your Bliss vs Following your Blisters”).
Are you automatically thinking of rainbows and unicorns? Or are you rolling your eyes, adding in a derisive snort just for good measure? Jeez, ok, well, let me humbly offer you some clarification on the idea of following one’s bliss and that maybe it has a little more substance than an esoteric nicety. First, I can tell you that following your bliss is not nice. In fact, it sucks. Most of the time.
If you want the whole thing the Gods will give it to you. But you must be ready for it ( Campbell 25).
I don’t know why Campbell uses the term “bliss”. It should be “going with your train-wreck” because following one’s bliss requires a goodly amount of going through one disaster after another, most not even orchestrated by ourselves. Following one’s bliss is actively signing on to a personalized kind of boot camp. Paraphrasing a quote by Bilbo Baggins: “you step out onto the road of adventure and there is no knowing where you will be swept off to”. That is, once we decide to open the door, we are no longer following our Bliss, we are pushed around by it: go here, do this, stay put, hurry up and wait, what are you waiting for? And, when we need the most guidance, when we are left abandoned at a sketchy truck-stop in the middle of Montana, it takes off on Holiday and says, “I just work here, you figure it out.” Bliss? Hah!
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us ( 18).
And just why does it matter if we follow it? Isn’t it safer to just stay on the road most traveled? Be another rat in the rat race? At least we are assured of getting our basic survival needs met. Maybe even a little more than our basic survival needs met. Like a secure job, a house, a family, a car, and even maybe vacation time thrown in. And if we are really good at not following our bliss, and we have jumped through all the right hoops, and performed admirably, we will have something called “retirement” where we get to golf, and go boating, and join quilting clubs. But most importantly we will be able to afford having someone wipe the drool off of our mouths ( and the other end) at the end of our lives. Maybe they will even feed us bacon from time to time.
Hell is life drying up (18).
But therein lies the inherent misery of the whole goddamned thing. Some of us are lucky. We are born following our bliss. Others, most of us, I would presume, are not so lucky. In fact, most of us encounter life in a way that sets us on the other side of the world, or the wrong side of the world ( or maybe even on the wrong planet), and we spend our lives trying to get back to the place we belong. Our place of Bliss.
The privilege of a lifetime is in being who you are (15).
And so, follow your Bliss. Especially now in these times of hatred based fear and zombie like existence. Bliss- doing what you are meant to do; being who you truly are- is needed. The world needs you and your Bliss. Think about this: where would we be without the people who followed their Bliss? Like Albert Einstein, Harriet Tubman, JRR Tolkien, Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, Aristotle, Socrates, Shakespeare…Joseph Campbell.
Thanks for reading.
Osbon, Diane, Ed. Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion. New York: HarperPerennial. 1991.
Rose Nico, Dr. “Following your Bliss vs Following your Blisters” [blogpost]. Mappalicious. 3 Feb. 2014, https://mappalicious.com/2014/02/03/following-your-bliss-vs-following-your-blisters/ Accessed 26 Aug. 2018.