By Heriberto Cruz, LCSW, SEP
Ten years ago, while on a men’s journey, I came across a quote by Joseph Campbell “follow your bliss”. Wow! I thought to myself. How do we know our bliss? And more importantly how do we follow it? Am I on my trajectory to following my bliss? It definitely got me thinking about my life and how I live it. It started my personal journey into exploring a fuller and deeper life.
How many of us men have become so over-attached to the security of what is familiar, that we’ve lost our instinctual sense of venturing? How many men have become too afraid to take new risks, or to keep renewing ourselves, that we have given up our explorations of the ‘unknown-ness’ of this world? Or is it just that are we simply avoidant by our human nature, seeking self-preservation primarily, and forsaking a certain kind of fundamental ‘leave-taking’ for the confinement of the couch, for the refuge of personal comfort, for the protective sanctity of home.
As men, we have the tendency to avoid expressing emotions, vulnerability, or simply shutting down. In addition, we’ve been told that to ask for help or support is a sign of weakness. This belief has kept men isolated, anxious, and depressed. This is not uncommon for most men. The resistance to being vulnerable and feeling emotions is what I encounter often in my men’s group. It’s scary for most men to feel their emotions because they have heard most of their life that crying or expressing emotions is not manly. The opposite can’t be further from the truth. Feeling our emotions allows us to connect and feel love from others. It makes life so much easier when we give the gift of supporting and being supported by men.
Campbell poses these questions: “What is the great thing for which you would sacrifice your life? What makes you do what you do? What is the call of your life to you – do you know it?” You see, following your bliss will probably mean that you must go to those uncomfortable and deep places within ourselves to challenge the familiar. Challenging what it means to be a man in today’s society.
In following the call to our bliss, Joseph Campbell said that doors would open for us that would not open before now and would not open for any others. But in order for the doors to open for us, we will have to be authentically living into the myth of the heroic endeavor. For now, it is our time to listen deeply to the call coming from within, without expecting any particular kind of summons. Then we notice what comes…because another truth is –whatever you have been looking for, is already looking for you. So, let’s be on the watch. Let each of us be open to surprising possibilities that have been waiting for our arrival. It may be time to say ‘yes’ to life and be taken by the soul on the journey of a lifetime.
As I continue to follow my bliss, I have learned to work with men in a new and different way. I can model to them what it means to be vulnerable and support them in their process. We don’t have to do life alone and it does not have to be hard. Following my bliss has allowed me to discover what makes me feel alive….my family, friends, cooking, and working with clients. I am consciously working to live my life in a way that makes me feel totally embodied and alive. No more sitting on the side lines and watching my life pass by. As the adventures continue to show up in my life, I feel the excitement of the mystery and unknowns of life.