Follow your bliss
My nephew Colin loves dance-offs. He’s at the awesome age of 9 where dance contests are still fun, especially those held in front of your aunts. He picks most of the songs and plays them on his ipad while my sisters and parents watch and cheer. Colin wins every time, unless his brothers decide to join in and then it’s a solid tie.
Dance offs have become a tradition in our family, one I hope will continue through Colin’s teenage years. I can only hope. During the last dance-off, we adults noticed him doing a sortakindalmost moonwalk and we all exclaimed in overly excited cheering, “NICE MOONWALK! 10 points for the Michael Jackson moves!!” He stopped for a moment to say “Michael Who?”
Every adult in the room exclaimed at once “you’ve never heard of Michael Jackson?!!!???” as if we had just heard he was stricken with leprosy.
Immediately, we commandeered the ipad and found a clip of MJ moon walking. And then MJ dancing at the Grammys. Then MJ in the Bad video. This was educational after all. He needed to know about the King of Pop!
Then, we found Thriller and each of us took turns singing and trying out the dance moves for Colin. He wasn’t impressed. In fact, he audibly sighed and made a plea for Whip It Nay Nay instead.
But, that was it. I hadn’t laughed that much in days, and I was delighted, goofy, giddy with happiness. I had this out of nowhere primo thought , there must be a flash mob Thriller in this town and after a few minutes searching in the web, I found it. Thriller Dance Class. Three weeks to learn all the moves to be in the Zombie dance team.
Now this is a moment where I could have thought oh geez this is ridiculous. I’m closer to 50 than 40. I haven’t danced in years. I’d have to drive across town for this class. It starts at 9 pm. What in God’s name would be the reason for dancing the Thriller dance any more? I have so many more important things to do in my life…
But this is a follow your bliss moment.
I used to have that Joseph Campbell quote on my fridge, “follow your bliss.” I spent years letting it inspire me to bigger and better adventures. A trip to Disneyland sounds fun! Let’s go! Rock climbing! Yes! I’d like to climb a 14,000’ mountain. Onward! Nepal! Hawaii! Follow your bliss!
But I had a realization a couple of years ago. Joseph may not have been saying to find bigger and better things that made me feel bliss. He might have been saying to notice my own feeling of bliss. He might have been asking me to notice when I felt blissful and do more of that. In other words, follow YOUR bliss.
It’s a subtle but very important distinction. In my original understanding of the quote, the thing which creates bliss is outside of myself. I seek it, go after it, look for it. It exists outside of me. But, in my second interpretation, it lives in me, in my heart, and all I have to do is notice it. It’s available in the smallest moments, soft moments, in oddly funny moments, in surprising ones. Even better, once I get acquainted with it, I can create it for myself. I can cultivate it, and it relies on no person or amount of money to get it. I hold the keys to it. Well. Shazam!
I can just do the Thriller dance occasionally to feel bliss.
I can do ridiculous things in front of my nephew. When he laughs, I feel bliss.
Or, I can even remember what that day was like, lean into the feeling of laughter and I will find bliss. Huh.
Moves made from pure joy begin to open doors, I’m sure of it.