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.