Friday, May 11, 2007

Follow your bliss

The late, great Joseph Campbell was always fond of saying "follow your bliss" and the ginormous rewards that come from doing so. As he said (via the Jospeh Campbell Foundation site):
JOSEPH CAMPBELL: If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.

I always have a hard time believing this, even though on a gut level, I know it to be true. We are never happier than when we are doing what we want to do - what we have a burning internal desire to be doing, that about which we are truly passionate. We have had two people quit at work this week, both to go and do other things that will hopefully make them happier, and I have been the one of the first people to, rather than bemoan their loss, to tell them that they need to do what makes them happy, that I was happy for them for taking control and doing what they felt they needed to do in what may (or may not - who knows?) be following their bliss.

However, I am completely shitty at taking my own advice. There are many days where I do not feel a connection to a well of energy in what I do on a daily basis in my work. Sometimes it's the job, sometimes not. Mostly it's an internal thing - nothing to do with the rest of the world. There are times that I just know that I'm not doing what I was placed on the planet to be doing. And it frequently gets to me. A lot. Especially recently, as the weather's gotten nicer and it's harder to be cooped up in a job when all you want to do is be outside.

I just can't get the image of that pharmacy in Boystown, Chicago out of my head - the one that offered comprehensive HIV care. For some reason, I'm drawn to that kind of work. I have no practical experience in it, but for so many reasons, I feel like working with the gay community would be so satisfying. Not only do I have a lot of gay friends (and I don't say that to show how progressive I am - it's just that so many of the people I have come across online that I am proud to call friends happen to be gay) but I also feel like, oddly enough for a straight man, they are my tribe. I have a feeling that the last thing in the world a gay man needs is a straight man telling him that he understands how he feels, but in many ways and, in the interest of brevity, too complicated to go into here, I sometimes feel like I do. And I think that providing that kind of care to those who have unfortunately contracted HIV - regardless of orientation - would be a provide my life with a bit more purpose than I sometimes feel.

So many times, I'm willing to give up everything for someone else or something else - but isn't it time that I started looking out for myself? Didn't I vow in January to be braver this year? Notice, that was braver, not dumber - things still have to fall into place a little bit before I could do anything as crazy as contemplate a job change. I mean, I'm not *seriously* thinking about a job change, but don't most people my age and of my generation always have a feeler out there, just testing the waters, so-to-speak.

The feelers are out there, and I'm testing the waters. I don't know - I know that I can be more fulfilled in my work, but as Annie Lennox says so eloquently, it won't show up in the pavement cracks.


Aunt Phetamine said...

As a card-carrying member, I'd be happy to claim you as a friend... even if you stay in Ames. :)

Move to Iowa City where you can volunteer at the Free Med Clinic as a pharmacist and be involved with ICARE; the lovely Missus can write...

As always,
Aunt Phetamine

Dan said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Aunt P - you know, I did a bit of volunteering for the Free Med Clinic in IC when we lived there. It's amazing to me that there isn't something similar here.