A week ago, I read this post on living a bliss-centred life by Hugh Macleaod ( a cartoonist, photo is one of his creations). It was the first time I heard of Joseph Campbell and his “Follow your bliss”. Macleod said that seeing for the first time was an “aha” moment, and in answer to the question of how, he says:
You just decide to do it, and then you go and do it. Or not. Whatever. It’s your call. It’s your path….Nobody can do it for you. Nobody can go there for you….
This echoes the same themes mentioned by Sarah Kay and discussed in my related post describing one’s journey.
One of the comments on Macleod’s post alluded to the accessibility of “Follow your bliss”, in contrast to the almost-cliché, “Follow your passion” (who hasn’t heard of that?). Is there really chasm between these two? is the question I’ve been mulling over in the past week.
I tend to agree with Macleod’s interpretation of bliss as “that mysterious place where the central energy of being finds it source”, particularly since Campbell purportedly hit on the idea from the Upanishads, with bliss juxtaposed with being and consciousness. I would interpret bliss as that state when you are really true to yourself and you feel fully alive.
How might I follow my bliss or passion? First, I have to answer what it is I need to follow.
I can still remember when I first realised that the reason I love drawing was with a few pencil strokes, what once was a blank piece of paper is transformed into art (in my eyes, anyway). Or that with a few melodic or hamonic touches of the piano (or guitar), music is created. Or with a few words I can form a tweet and with a few more, a post. Or from a multitude of resources on the internet, I can craft something coherent and engaging to facilitate learning.
When I create, I follow my bliss.
I love change and wondered if it constitutes following my bliss. Truth is, I love change when I see it as an opportunity for improvement. What I love, then, is the challenge to do things better and not change for change sake. A challenge is an opportunity to create and innovate. Challenges are how I push the boundaries of who I am and who I am not, what I can do and what I cannot.
When I face a challenge, I follow my bliss. Failing a challenge, while disappointing, is part of the journey and I gain from what I learn anyway.
One of the hardest things since I became a parent is to claim some “me” time. That said, I have this need to connect with other people: family and peers either face-to-face or via technology. People are so interesting and they are a good source of challenges and inspiration to create.
When I connect, I follow my bliss. That I’m dis-connected sometimes heightens this bliss.
What of passion?
I am passionate about learning and the main driver to setting up this blog over a year ago. My pedagogical principles revolve around facilitating learning. I admire those who share the same passion as both affirming and challenging. By connecting, I am able to learn whenever, where ever and often from people I will most likely not meet face-to-face.
“Follow my bliss” is how I follow my passion. Equally, “follow my passion” drives me to follow my bliss in new and innovative ways . There is no chasm between these two as far as I’m concerned. A good personal example is my one-off stint years ago to join the hundreds-strong choir along with the Sydney Philharmonia Choir at the Sydney Opera House to perform Handel’s Messiah. It was a challenge. It was connecting with others. It was (music) creation. It was a time of much learning on my part.