Monday, June 10, 2013

Bliss, Contentment, and the Hero's Journey

My friend Waylon recently asked me in a letter:  what is my bliss?  He, his sister, and I have been discussing Joseph Campbell's idea of the Hero's Journey and one of the quintessential aphorisms of the Hero's Journey is follow your bliss.  One of the essential questions of this mythic existential philosophy, therefore, is what is your bliss?

My answer is I don't know.  For me, bliss implies deep passion, ecstatic pleasure, exuberant emotion, and nirvanic proportion.  As such, bliss seems unattainable.   It seems transitory and illusory.  And yet, this is the message I hear so often:  do what you love and the money will follow, pursue your dreams, live big, follow your bliss. 
I feel more practical than this quixotic ideal.  And yet, I know that passion for life means living a fulfilling life.  I certainly want that for myself.  We all do.  Nonetheless, I don't know what bliss I would follow right now.  Or rather, I know, but it seems impractical.  Perhaps that's the nature of bliss.  Seldom is it practical; seldom is it comfortable.  Like the Hero's Journey, bliss means stepping outside of our security and pursuing something because it means that much to us and because it means more to us than the comfort of our current situation. 

The concept I feel more comfortable with is contentment.  Perhaps happiness.  Contentment suggests attainability, satisfaction, and equilibrium.  Contentment is bliss's mild mannered sibling.  Practical and quiet, and yet, engaged and energized by acceptance.  Contentment isn't inaction or introversion,  although each of these traits can emerge.  Contentment can still be active. 

Contentment still asks us to take the Hero's Journey, and reminds us that it is not the Hero's Destination but rather the Hero's Journey.  The journey itself is the adventure and not only the final destination. Furthermore, contentment is available, indeed necessary, each step of the way.  The leaving for the journey, the journey itself, and the arrival are equally significant.  Arrival, after all, is constant until the day we die.  Each new moment is arriving into that new moment.  As soon as we arrive we are departing.  Our arrival is always temporary as is our departure and the journey in between.  The two are the opposite and the same: yin and yang, the pendulum swinging back and forth, the eternal equilibrium of our existence. 

So, what is my contentment is the question I ask myself and the question I pose to you.  What would bring you contentment?  Pursue that.  Follow your contentment.  Create a net for yourself, take the leap of faith, and jump. 

No comments:

Post a Comment