Cliché: an expression or idea that has become trite. (Webster’s)
Trite: worn out by constant use, no longer having freshness, originality or novelty; stale. (Webster’s)
“Follow your bliss” is a phrase that is commonly used today. When I googled the phrase I got 5,980,000 results in .20 seconds. When I hear this phrase being used my reaction is one of slight annoyance. Don’t ask me why, it just is. You won’t hear me saying “follow your bliss” very often – maybe I have said it once or twice in my life. I also don’t listen very well when others use the phrase. In fact, to tell the truth, I actually dampen my listening, pull back or maybe you could even say that a kind of filter overtakes how I listen and I become less interested in what the other has to say. I check out. Gone.
I find my reaction to this phrase as kind of interesting, especially when you consider that the first entry in Webster’s definition for bliss is: “Great joy or happiness.” So, why would I not like or listen to a phrase that means to follow my great joy or happiness? Could it be my cynical, dark side or is it something else?
Reading on to the second entry in the dictionary it says: “spiritual joy; heavenly rapture”. Well, for me, that one immediately pulls up organized religion and oops, look there is my cynicism yet again – wars, killing, right and wrong us versus them. Yikes. And then reflecting further, I know that spiritual joy and heavenly rapture are not the same as organized religion, the first two are an experience the last is an organizational structure to which people belong. None-the-less, religion is the first thing that I think of when I read that second entry of Webster’s definition.
Does my automatic thoughts of religion have any underlying meaning in my lack of love for the phrase “follow your bliss?” I have no idea but, it is interesting to consider it all. Then I think of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other spiritual ideas or practices. I can sit with bliss here, a bit. The peaceful nature of these philosophies are less problematic when I think of bliss and yet I wonder. I wonder why it is that when I am in a room of blissful spiritually connected people (outside of the confines of religion) do I feel so uncomfortable? They gaze into each others eyes, smile, express their love and appreciation for one another and I am uncomfortable. I can barely watch bliss much less be in it in those situations. Alas, I believe my cynical dark side is showing yet again…
Back to Webster’s and the third definition of bliss: “any cause of bliss [slang] to experience or produce ecstasy or intense pleasure or satisfaction from or as if from a hallucinogenic drug, or a mystical experience…” So, drugs for bliss, or maybe a mystical experience, all right then, one is easy to come by and the other seems elusive or perhaps the result of being in the right place at the right time or the result of several hours of practicing say, a spiritual ritual.
The other night I watched the movie “Pina” which is a dedication to German dancer and Choreographer Pina Bausch. By the time the movie was over I was present to the beauty of following what makes me happy and I was reminded of expressing what is at the inner depths of my being. As I sat there observing the dancers expressing themselves in ways that made no sense or had no inherent reason they each revealed a deep, inner unique expression which tapped into something belonging to all of us. It was beauty, it was truth and it was goodness. I watched and I became present to something that I wouldn’t call spiritual joy or heavenly rapture but I would say that it was an essence of my humanity that longs for expression. Sitting there watching, I suddenly realized that there are places in my life where I was doing what seemed the right thing or what made the most sense instead of following what captured my love, my passion and my joy. In the middle of that movie I realized that many of my biggest current issues were in fact, small distractions from focusing my attention on that which touches my heart. In that movie I let go of something small and drifted out into a place of excitement and joy.
This, perhaps is what someone meant when they coined the phrase “follow your bliss”, I don’t know. But who would have thought that watching a movie of beauty and profound human expression would reach in and rearrange my world.
Wait… is it? Could it be? I do believe that this just might be a mystical experience. @ :-)~