I heard the short but potent phrase,
“follow your bliss,” twenty years ago when I learned of mythologist Joseph Campbell. Immediately, I loved the precision of his words. He didn’t say, find your bliss, discover your bliss, or work to figure out your bliss. No. Campbell cut straight to it:
Follow Your Bliss
Since I’m a pondering kinda of gal, I’ve been pondering that phrase every since. Looked up the word in my old stand-by: Webster’s II New College Dictionary, “Extreme happiness; ecstasy of salvation; spiritual joy.” I was searching for each of those things, wanting to live a happy life and to be full of joy. I learned that like all good things in life, to be happy meant doing the work on yourself to get you to that place—to enjoy the ongoing journey of being joyful.
When I was a child, my mother instilled in me a great love of films from the 1940’s. Katharine Hepburn was (is) my hero. Red-haired, strong-willed, and no-nonsense combined with a great laugh. (Can you watch The Philadelphia Story without laughing at her laugh?) I thought being an actress would be a grand way to earn a living. You could have every occupation you dreamt up and be a hundred different people for short periods of time.
The problem with pursuing that vocation? I was painfully shy. Yes, me. Anyone who knows me now would say: What? Are you kidding? You, shy? Back in high school, the mere idea of getting on stage to act in the annual play paralyzed me. One thought of people staring at me, flubbing my lines, tripping across the stage, and I could not bring myself to try out for a part.
Rather Than Becoming an Actress, Writing Became My Bliss
Instead of moving to Hollywood, at age fourteen I started writing, creating worlds and relationships and adventures. I’ve never stopped putting words on paper. Reflecting, I’m not sure why I didn’t write screenplays to connect myself to movies. Wash scripting movies such an unheard of career move in my family? Something other people did, but not us folk from a blink-of-an-eye town in western Pennsylvania. Ah, but I could have written myself right into my bliss.
Putting pen to paper is my first love and I have always written. Essays, journals, poems … words poured forth onto pages under my pen, with the clacking of typewriter keys, the quiet tap of a laptop. I did not pursue writing professionally for too long, choosing life-sucking careers, always learning about those who followed their bliss and those who didn’t.
Life flipped topsy-turvy clarifying that postponing what I love and find blissful was simply no longer an option. Isn’t it great when clarity hits you right between the eyes?
Pursuing our pleasures keeps our actions simple.
Running a blog is not blissful
My writing evolved into the world of blogging. Originally, one blog site was not enough to satisfy that yearning to be different people, so I had three entirely different ones.
Musings From a Redhead blog covers multiple aspects of my loves—travel, humor, life, grief, books, and random thoughts. The Adventures of Burt and Muggins is meant solely to make people laugh—we adults often take ourselves too seriously. The other blog was about faith and how it can be less complicated than what it’s often made out to be. But three blogs were unmanageable and I took the Christian one down, hoping to turn those writings into a book.
My discipline is to roll out of bed, make a coffee and start writing–ah, bliss! If words are what I want to pursue, then I must begin my day pursuing them. Write, edit, write, edit, and keep repeating.
I am following my bliss and happiness has never been so clear. Whether it’s the make believe world of a novel or the non-fiction essays, I’m writing. I’m full of that joy I was searching to find.
Read: Headstrong? Who, me?