Follow your Bliss!
“Follow your bliss.” -Joseph Campbell
“Put your derriere where your hearts wants to be.” -Steven Pressfield
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.”-Gospel of Thomas
Gioachino Rossini is one of the most popular Italian opera composers of all time (nicknamed the Italian Mozart). Recently, I was listening to his best known opera, Cenerentola (Cinderella). At the conclusion of the piece, the radio commentator returned and said, “For all this man’s musical genius, his real passion to create lie in the kitchen.” In 1855, Rossini made a pilgrimage to Paris, the gustatory capitol of the world, to indulge his creative passion to cook! He loved nothing more than tying on an apron, creating magic in the kitchen, and then hosting his famous literary and artistic friends to a feast. You can still visit Parisian bistros and find Tournedo a la Rossini (A French steak dish with foie gras, truffles, and a Madeira sauce) on the menu in his honor. You could say Rossini followed his bliss!
If we are made in the image of God, “the Creator,” then it only makes logical sense that our DNA is divinely-programmed to create. Maybe we don’t have the talent for creating the stars and the moon, a lavender sunset, or a unique fingerprint, but we are “petite” creators in our own right with a creative destiny.
I recently enjoyed reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic! Gilbert believes that within in each one of us there are buried treasures of creativity that are waiting to be unearthed during our lifetime. She says, “The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living. The result of the hunt is, “Big Magic!”
Creative living is inviting delight, wonder, and a little creative “je ne sais quoi” into our lives. I have a friend whose day job is working in a local bookstore, but if you follow her on Instagram, you know her bliss is baking really beautiful cakes! Another friend slips away after she has fed her children dinner and takes a classical ballet class every Tuesday night. She’s forty, but when she’s dancing her soul is ageless!
Most of us are afraid of creative living. We believe it’s reserved for the likes of the Chagall’s, Vivaldi’s, and Da Vinci’s of the world. But that’s just our egos, and not our spirits talking! Look at Etsy, one of the fastest growing companies in America. It’s literally a virtual marketplace for unique and creative illuminations by ordinary folks like you and me following their bliss.
I recently heard an interview with Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art, where he makes the distinction between the life we live, and the “unlived” life within us. Think of the soul as a veritable dream factory. Dancing, cooking, painting, gardening, yoga, playing the piano, knitting, throwing pottery, kneading a loaf of bread, writing—–This is the soul at play!
The problem is we live in a culture that pursues mastery and perfection over passion and simple joy. We actually experience guilt when we step away from the grind of life’s responsibilities and entertain the often superfluous, dreamy, joy-seeking, creative parts of our being. And yet, it’s the activation of this sweet spot of our being that makes our lives interesting, expanded, and meaningful. Not too mention, joy-filled! Not all would agree with me, but I think creativity is God’s unique signature on humanity.
We read in the book of Genesis that after God created the world as we know it, he stepped back and looked at his work and said, “It is good.” Or maybe He high-fived the angels and said it another way, “Look and learn, my winged friends. This is the secret to living!”
Let me assure you that when I speak of creative living my expectations are not Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It could be as simple as a new recipe, a hand-knitted scarf, a wildflower or herb garden, a home-made Valentine’s card, a watercolor or haiku. When we create, we are inspired. When we are inspired, we transcend. And, most importantly, we walk this planet with elated souls!
Creating and pursuing a passion in any form is nourishment for the soul! I daresay healing! The human condition is anything but a light endeavor. I don’t have to run down the laundry list of burdens that weight us to this earth (health, relationships, finances, etc.) to remind you what we are each up against on any given day, but the soul knows that’s only part of the story!
When we create— Something magical and transcendent transpires within us. We glow. And we don’t even need a Mona Lisa to show for our work. It’s just the process of creating that lights us up from the inside out.
Albert Einstein was “The Physicist” whose claim to fame was his Theory of Relativity. But did you know that in private he was a self-taught violinist whose bliss was playing homespun concerts with his friends? My father in law, a retired CEO, is actively pursuing his bliss for ballroom dancing. He and my mother-in-law tango all over the country. And I would argue that they may just have discovered the fountain of youth in a bolero. My mother paints these imaginative circus scenes that take the viewer on a magic carpet ride. Her joy for her art is a large reason why I put pen to paper. My husband spends his days as an entrepreneur and his weekends as an amateur gardener. This spring he planted an Impressionist painting of wildflowers in our front yard—-A gift I’ll not soon forget. My day job is a minister but my passion is creative writing. This may surprise you but when I sit down at my computer, I’m not pining to join the literary canon with my heroes, Paulo Coelho, Flannery O’ Connor, and C.S. Lewis. It’s just the creative process of stringing words together, like an imaginative necklace of pearls, that literally expands my soul!
When we contribute these little sparks of creativity to the world, it’s a domino effect for the Collective Soul. We are wired to create and to revel in other people’s creativity.
What will be your creative signature, your mark of joy, on the world?
Follow your bliss!