Filed under: art, dreams, theatre | Tags: Follow Your Bliss, Follow Your Blisters, Follow Your Rhino, Joseph Campbell, Rhino
If you’re an artist, your life path has surely been labeled, “Following Your Bliss” at some point. When trying to explain your haphazard opportunities to a stranger, your skip-stop lifestyle or whatever unconventional path you have followed, someone will explain it to themselves with, “Ah! You’re following our bliss! Just like Joseph Campbell said!” And you smile and you nod and you feel like you’re lying when you say, “Yes, yes. That’s right.”
Fact is, though, it doesn’t feel like bliss. (Campbell himself later in his life is reported to have said, “I should have said ‘Follow your blisters.”)
To me, my life feels not like following bliss but like following an elusive rhinoceros in a forest. It is a beloved rhino, to be sure, one that I have fed and cherished throughout its life and one for which I have great affection. But I have also watched it trample on a great many other things as it lumbers ahead of me, just out of my grasp. Sometimes I catch up with it and get a chance to give it a bath, sing it its favorite rhino songs but most of the time, I am running like mad, trying to catch hold of it. I’m clearing the branches that smack me in the face, nursing twisted ankles from tripping over roots, trying not to stop too long for food or water.
The rhino leads me to all kinds of inconvenient places and gets me into all kinds of trouble but I know that the trouble of just letting it run wild without me would be worse. The choice, for me, seems to be to chase the rhino or watch the rhino run wild and tear the place up, trampling everything around me.
Actually, now that I think about it, I’m going to name my rhino, “Bliss” so when someone asks if I’m following it, I can give a hearty unqualified, “Yes! That’s right!”
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