“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” ~Joseph Campbell
|Dance by Lyric Montgomery Kinard
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What is your calling?
Finding your calling is a wonderful thing. Sometimes it comes to you in a blast of enlightenment, sometimes it slowly grows on you as you wander aimlessly. Either way you take the seeds of the talent you have been given and you nurture and develop it into something you can use to create a better world. Joseph Campbell said, “One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.”
Where is the bliss?
I know what my calling is…. so where’s the bliss? It’s the peak of summer and I’m tired. I’m keeping the children occupied, trying to keep the house from devolving into complete chaos, struggling to meet deadlines. My art-making feels much the same way. I’m barely slogging through the things that must be done. Aren’t I supposed to feel bliss every time I sit down to my sewing machine or pick up a paint brush?
I recently read an article by Jefferey Thompson, a professor at the Romney Institute of Public Management. He studies things like “callings” and workplace satisfaction. Some of the most satisfied workers in their professions? Zookeepers. They are passionate about what they do. Are they always blissful? No. They are not paid well, the hours can be difficult caring for sick animals through the night, and the work can be at times – well – unsavory. Professor Thompson learned something very interesting.
“The pain and burdens and sacrifice were not threats to their sense of calling—they were part of it. The work was meaningful because of the trials and burdens. That is an important lesson. We can’t expect deep meaningfulness from our calling unless we are willing to assume its burdens as well.” A number of years after Joseph Campbell coined the phrase “follow your bliss” he quipped, “What I should have said was, ‘follow your BLISTERS!'”
Ah. This is the “blister” part of summertime. Motherhood, art-making, zookeeping; they all have their slogging, difficult moments. They are worthwhile callings. The children will have had a good summer. I’ll have time soon to develop some of the beginnings of ideas for some new artworks. It’s not all bliss but it is my calling. What is yours?
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