I’ve been thinking a lot lately about following one’s bliss. The most overused quote in my quote-filled-head is one that I attribute to Joseph Campbell (he was quoting someone else and I changed a few of the words), “One who seeks truth should seek it as one who’s hair is on fire seeks a pond”. This quote, along with the feeling that my life seems to go better when I’m following my bliss, led me to weep in my wife’s arms this past Saturday. There is something inside of me that has made me pay attention to the things going on in the world and share them with anyone who will listen. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and yet there are days – weeks even – that I am not hypnotized by the mountains. As of late, when there are days where I only have time to read sports or news; I choose the former.
I have a friend named Matt; he and I have been friends for a number of years and have been through more crazy experiences than I care to recount. The other night (oddly enough, the same night I broke down) we had a long conversation about why we are friends. Besides drinking and motorcycles (which we didn’t own when we met) we really have nothing obvious in common. Upon further investigation however, we discovered that we connected so deeply and so quickly because of our all-out full sprint towards our bliss. I am a writer and he is a musician and that is how we live our lives. Over the past year, I have abused and neglected my bliss while Matt has worked himself almost to death in order to chase his. Now, after having just completed a west coast tour, his band is starting to get played on the radio. I own a marijuana dispensary and haven’t written a thing in a month.
This blog has been a way for me to both pay attention to what’s going on and get my daily dose of writing. I don’t know if I have ever really been a writer or if anyone has actually read this for reasons other than being a friend of mine, but all of that be damned- if I don’t write I go crazy, so I’m back. For the past week or so, I have been reading articles and blogs from various sources. I have stayed away from this for too long and now I will start writing again.
I graduated college with a degree in Peace Studies, and at no time in my life do I feel better, like I could actually accomplish something, than when I am using what I have learned. When I’m functioning on all cylinders, I notice the fluffiness of the ever-changing Colorado clouds and reflect on life through the lens of non-violence. I can’t fully understand my connection with the grass, nor can I believe 100% in the effectiveness of being completely nonviolent. I think back to when I realized this was my bliss; it was Thanksgiving of 2007 and I had just finished War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. I drank for the first time in a month – hanging out next door at a friend’s apartment – and suddenly everything hit me. What a horrible, horrible world we live in; every minute of every day, people are being tortured, wrongly imprisoned (assuming there is such a things as being rightly imprisoned), raped, killed, starved, and otherwise denied their full rights as human beings. After a few months of having panic attacks at this thought, I started to understand how one could have the ability to feel sad about these things, while still being able to appreciate a rainbow or laugh at an inappropriate joke. Today, Mr. Hedges reminded me of this, with his weekly column over at Truthdig. I won’t spend too much time trying to summarize this amazing piece of writing, but it is because of reading this that today, my wife and I will be finding some remote hiking trail and reading poetry to each other. Seemingly every second of every day we are on this earth, we have a manufactured reality being shoved down our throats. We have giant billboards telling us that we can be more complete people if we just lose that last ten pounds, we have obnoxious people in big trucks running us off the road, we have ads on the buses, inside of restaurants, and hanging from the back of planes. It is so very easy to only notice these things- in fact, after a while we don’t even consciously notice any more, this is just the way life is. Sitting under a tree and contemplating its relationship to you, takes a lot more mental energy and time than buying a new pair of shoes, but the rewards are so much more gratifying.
Maybe that first time sitting under a tree is a little strange and you feel self-conscious; after all, you’re being a hippie trying to connect to a tree. However, given time and practice eventually it becomes easier and much less hippie-like. It’s sad when only “hippies” can see the connectedness of everything, when the vast majority of the world can see a headline about a car bomb killing a dozen children or a pilot-less drone accidentally dropping multiple bombs on a village in Afghanistan and simply write it off as being the way things are. How we can we not feel for these people? I go back to this repeatedly in my writings because I go back to it over and over again in my head, but if – just for one minute each day – even half of us can see those others as humans, this would all end. Obviously, if these drones were dropping bombs on the town next to us, everything else in our lives would fade away and we would do everything in our power to put an end to this. However, because it is happening to people who look and sound different than us, because it’s somewhere far away, and in the name of freedom, we are able to tune into American Idle in record numbers every season. Despite the fact that these planes are flying humanless and are dropping bombs, someone still controls it -even if it is a person sitting at a computer in Langley, Virginia killing 20 people in Kabul. The disconnect we experience is scary. I am pretty sure that we are born with the intimate insight that people are people. Some are fat, some are skinny, some have long hair, some have short, some are polite, some are not, but we all want happiness and we would all rather not suffer. At some point in our lives, the differences rather than the similarities are stressed, and we start to believe that our only chance at being happy is to make someone else sad, that the only way we can live a life free of suffering is if others suffer more. I don’t know how to combat this horrible trend, but it is something that needs to happen, and soon.