Friday, July 21, 2017

Ramming Speed Friday: Exquisite Ecstasy Edition

I can’t even…
Life is a crazy adventure. 
In The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell says in his conversation with Bill Moyers:
“My general formula for my students is ‘Follow your bliss.’ Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
I can’t say that I’ve always adhered strictly to this principle.  I can say that from my teen years I desperately wanted to.  I wanted to go fearless down the trail into the wilderness and find the high places of life.  I wanted to be the fullest version of myself.  Throughout the years, I’ve danced around that state of mind, brushing up against it every so often but never being fully immersed in it enough to understand why it’s even important.  Figuring out what my bliss is…where it comes from…what parts of me truly wants to come through…that’s never been easy. 
I can easily come up with a bucket list of things I want to do in life, but what’s difficult is to sort out who I want to be.  As I neared the end of my undergraduate stint whilst rushing toward the long cubicle sentence I now call my life Mandy would frequently ask me what I wanted to do with my degree.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was our inside joke.  I was in my mid-30s at the time.  Truth be told I didn’t want to grow up.
I never had a definite answer.  I think at some point I started giving the expected answer—a planner—and ran with it.  I mixed up a big boy career and growing up with bliss and dreams.  At some point I stopped believing that dreams mattered and felt like I had to perform to some societal standard.  I have one regret in life…
Earlier in the conversations Campbell said:
“Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word ‘Sat’ means being. ‘Chit’ means consciousness. ‘Ananda’ means bliss or rapture. I thought, ‘I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.’ I think it worked.”
My life has been a quest for bliss.  And I hope you realize that the word has a lot deeper meaning than mere happiness and it’s so much more than giddy feelings over some recent life events.  Joy, bliss, rapture…they all speak to a mental and emotional state of contentment I think.  Not so long ago Mandy asked me—in frustration—would I ever be content.  Without hesitation, I said: “I don’t think so.”
The Book of Matthew states:
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
I think this epitomizes Christianity.  And this also speaks to my spiritual conundrum of the last few years.  I don’t see American Christianity exhibiting this mentality.  How can I reason together with people who totally dismiss this beautiful passage? 
Tuesday, I stayed home from work.  It was just a random mental health day.  I honestly didn’t need it, but I was basking in an afterglow of a weekend spent with my favorite person.  The past few weeks have been a long and deep conversation between us.  Late in the afternoon we were just sitting around, finally noses into our respective smarty smart phones, but satiated for the time being with social intercourse, and I realized I had not had a single thought all day about leaving the house, cycling, rock climbing, hiking, or doing much of anything except being in the company of my best friend.
“I’m content,” I said.  She looked up from her phone and smiled at me.  But then I think the realization of what I had said sunk in.  I explained why I had reached that conclusion.  I honestly felt at that moment that I could spend the rest of my life sitting in that room with her and not need anything else. 
There are many things in life I want to do.  I have a bucket list.  From time to time I am compelled to go ride my bike a hundred miles or spend a day swinging around on cliffs.  I like paddling down new and exciting rivers.  I want to help other people discover the strength and curiosity hiding in their minds.  I want to share the world I see with as many people as I can.  That desire has driven me since I was a kid.
What I now conclude is that my priorities have been somewhat out of whack.  I can have all of those things, follow my bliss, but unless I stayed centered on the ground at my feet I’m never going to be able to enjoy the adventures I find myself in.  Maybe life can be as simple as “follow your bliss.”  I think the difficult matter is figuring out what your bliss is.  And I think that is a worthy adventure itself.
The best of me


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