Saturday, September 8, 2007

Follow Your Bliss and Save the World

As you consider making a change in your life, you may have the thought that doing so is selfish, or useless, or unimportant. After all, if becoming a craft brewer is what you have dreamed of doing for years, it hardly seems like curing cancer.

And yet. And yet, the positive force of doing what you love, what you are uniquely suited to do, is important in and of itself. The presence of a completely alive person in the world, no matter the occupation, does so much more for the world than sleepwalking through your life, miserable, barely present, unengaged with the people and places around you.

By following your passion, you become a vitalizing force in the world, which the world always needs more of.

Mythology scholar Joseph Campbell had this to say in The Power of Myth:
Campbell: My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.

Moyers: Is it my work or my life?

Campbell: If the work that you're doing is the work that you chose to do because you are enjoying it, that's it. Buf if you think, "Oh, no! I couldn't do that!" that's the dragon locking you in.

Moyers: In this sense, unlike heroes such as Prometheus or Jesus, we're not going on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves.

Campbell: But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there's no doubt about it. The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who's on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it's alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.
So many people worry that what they want to do might seem stupid or insignificant to someone else. First off, I say, so what? Who cares what some jackass thinks? And second, I say, well, it depends on context. I spent two years earning an MFA in Fiction, which to most of the people I work with now seems totally stupid and like a waste of time, but to the people I studied with, and to me, even today, writing fiction is one of the best uses of my time. Do I care what my coworkers think about fiction? Nope. It's frustrating sometimes, but writing fiction is true and real for me, and so I try to seek out like-minded people who share my passion.

Don't worry about being a lawyer or a doctor or a Ph.D. Find what can revive your spirit, and throw yourself into that. Even if it's brewing your own beer. I think we can all agree that there are times when a really great beer seems to be the only redeeming thing about the world. And what would we do if no one cared to do it?

I shudder to think. So find your thing and do it well. The world you save may be your own.

Related posts:
Bliss is in Your Nature
What Is Bliss?

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