Is it True?

I‘ve been wondering about a few things recently. Wondering about statements that have permeated modern consciousness, assumptions that do not sway me, and a green exhortation I’d like weighed independently.

Let’s start with “Follow your bliss” a philosophy and movement ignited by Joseph Campbell.  Following your bliss, Campbell taught, “is a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.”  A scary and exhilarating idea — to identify and then pursue that which one is passionate about.

According to my New Oxford American, passion “evokes a strong and barely controllable emotion… inspiring intense desire and enthusiasm. “Follow your bliss” is often the rationale for pursuing the creative life. One has to be passionate to choose the slings and arrows of the creative life, to embark upon a path strewn with the shards and stumbling blocks of indifference, rejection and doubt.

No surprise that passion’s root derives from Latin’s pati — or suffer. Does the artist exist who hasn’t suffered in some way for her craft? Is it true that pursuing one’s passion, following one’s bliss, puts one on the road towards the greatest fulfillment? A question best answered day by day, painting by painting, word by word. (A note on the poignant photo above. It was taken by my daughter, who has followed her bliss to the Big Apple and brings her innate creative passion to everything she does.)

Now for an assumption less sublime.  Does loud, thumping “music” really make us want to buy more? There I was at the makeup counter trying to decide between soft black and brown black mascara. THUMP THUMP THUMP went the bilious beat. “Can you turn that off?” I asked.  Politely, even. “We have to play it,” the saleswoman answered. “The company says music makes people buy more.”  She muted the “song” halfway through but then it started up again. “I’m sorry,” she shrugged as the volume asserted itself, obnoxious as a heckler, into the middle of our transaction . “I can only lower it one track at a time.”

I chose a mascara and a lipstick, too.  Not because of the music, but because the young saleswoman was sweet, sympathetic, and helpful. But the next time I need face paint I’m bypassing Macy’s for Nordstrom’s, where the store, not the individual concessionaire, controls the atmosphere. In my (song) book, blaring music does not a repeat customer make.

Last question — is it really greener to bank and pay bills online? Each month I receive notices urging me to “save trees, be kind to the environment and go green” by banking and bill paying on line. But is this really true?  That by going digital I will be kinder to the environment?

Where do all of these online transactions take place?  Not in the trees saved by paperless stays of execution. I imagine all this digital info is kept in huge computer mainframes, mainframes that take up lots of tree-cleared land. Mainframes that need cooling. Cooling generated by electricity. 24/7. Do mail truck emissions foul the air more than air conditioned mainframes? Will the trees saved from being pulped into paper bills provide oxygen enough to neutralize whatever emissions come from the power generated to cool the mainframes? This paper bill paying inquiring mind wants to know — is online banking really greener?

Here’s to a year of bliss and passion, quiet make-up counters and stress-free bill paying.

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6 thoughts on “Is it True?

  1. Leah Rubin

    Gee, when you questioned whether paying bills on-line was really a green notion, I thought, “Well, of course it is.” But as usual, you raised thoughtful and well-reasoned questions that have me thinking! And, I might note, Joseph Campbell aside, I am passionate about thinking!

  2. Beth Aviv

    Why won’t they turn off that loud music? What makes them think it makes us want to stick around to buy more??? Most of the time, I walk into a store, hear the loud, thumping music, turn around, and go right out the door, back to the quiet of the street (or mall). I guess their targeted clients have different taste in music — and in what goes in (or doesn’t go in) their ears.

    1. Pam

      Debra: there’s another side of the music issue. In a few stores the music is keyed to the demographics, and I admit falling prey to sticking around because the music is pleasant and/or familiar. It’s a MANIPULATION and I wish it were not. Brain research ties to marketing in evil ways. for instance: if your ears are distracted by lyrics, your judgment may be distracted – which of course is the intent.

      When I was shelving books in a fine independent bookstore a couple of years ago, we all found that we couldn’t work efficiently with voices and lyrics in the background – but any instrumental-only music was great.

      I could rant.

  3. Cindy La Ferle

    So many deep and interesting points to ponder in this post! I love what you said about “following our bliss” … never as simple as it sounds. As you note, there are so many rejections and stumbling blocks along the way, that it’s hard to call it “bliss” all of the time! And I love the photo taken by your daughter to go with the post, btw.

    And the music issue. I agree with you. What’s with that blaring music? Same thing happens in the salon where I get my hair cut. I love my stylist — she’s a lifelong friend. But her boss has this thumping techno-disco-percussion going all the time. On the other hand, when I am at the Douglas J (Aveda) salon to get a massage, they play soft, dreamy music that contributes to the relaxing mood. That works for me.

  4. Debra

    Music is a strong theme here. It is so closely tied to a mood. Or should be. I wonder what the difference would be between no music and pleasant music. Would we purchase more to dreamy music or music that we enjoy? And interesting, Pam, that instrumentals helped with efficiency but lyrics got in the way.

  5. Liz Morley

    Online bill paying? In addition to saving the ‘trees’, you also save on postage: for you and the company that sent it. And if you do prefer to mail it in, what do you think they do with it? They have someone punch it into a computer, hopefully without making typo errors. I know, not as senuous and writing the check, stuffing the envelope, licking the envelope and picking out the most enticing one of your stamps for the mood of the momont…but so it goes.

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