August seemed to go by slower than molasses. The heat continued to weigh us down in the afternoon and keep us awake at night, and I worked at the most boring job imaginable. But exciting things are on the frontier. August was a month of waiting, and waiting isn’t fun.
As much as I whine about not having money, and as stressful as it can be to not know if you’re going to be able to pay your rent any given month, I fully realize that I have a first world, middle class point of view. My expectations for what my life can or should be are largely influenced by this perspective. I know that for the majority of the world’s population, having a second-hand Droid X instead of a new iPhone 5 is not a problem. I get that.
I recently had a second interview for a job in the development department at IHS, or the Institute for Human Services. IHS is primarily a homeless shelter, but they run a very comprehensive program, including health services, employment and housing services, and sustainability programs. Their mission is far reaching and their compassion is absolutely necessary in our community where homelessness is all around us.
As I pulled up on my moped, wearing clothes and accessories all from discount stores that were several years old with my second hand phone and my iPod nano from 2008, I was suddenly struck by just how privileged I am. It was an idea that I had always carried with me, but in that moment, it was completely tangible.
I was surrounded by people who had very few, if any possessions. They probably didn’t wake up in the morning and worry about what they were going to wear because they were already wearing their only clothes. They weren’t worrying about paying their rent because they didn’t have a place to live. For whatever reason, they had nothing, and they needed the help of IHS. More than ever, I wanted to be a part of the team that would help them feel a bit more secure and a bit more valued.
All anybody really wants is to be treated with a bit of dignity and respect. All that really matters is that we take care of one another. Everything else is just noise.
I’m not trying to tell you to sell all your possessions and burn your driver’s license like that kid in “Into the Wild.” I still wished I could go shopping and buy myself some new work clothes today. I just think that it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that no matter what you have or don’t have, there is somebody in the world who needs your help. You have the power to give someone that gift. Donate money. Volunteer your time. Bring someone a cup of hot coffee. There is something you can do.
We’re all in this together. Let’s help each other be more awesome.
When you’re struggling for every dollar, you often have to make tough choices. Sacrifices have to be made so that living can happen. And maybe you end up doing something you don’t really care about because you want to stay in your apartment and cook a decent meal once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what about your soul?
There are also moments in your life where you have to take risks. I’m not saying you should quit your job right now and become a juggler. That’s insane. But you definitely should spend evenings juggling if that’s what you’re into. Whatever that thing is that you don’t get to do because you’re too busy trying to scrape by, you need to do it.
Joseph Campbell says to follow your bliss. Find the thing that makes you feel more alive and do it. As often as you can. If you are one of those people who gets paid to follow your bliss, consider yourself amongst the most fortunate of humans. Most of us are not so fortunate. But trust me when I say, no matter how tired you feel at the end of the day, nothing can bring you back to life quite like following your bliss. I did it yesterday, and it was terrifying and beautiful.
I auditioned for one of my very favorite musicals, Cabaret. I’ve wanted to be in this show since I was 18. You see, dancing is my own true bliss. I’ve been doing it practically since birth. When life abruptly shoved me off my path to the stage, it took a lot of years before I found the confidence to ignore my fears and insecurities and audition for a show again. But once I was cast, I felt like I was home again.
I still spent a lot of time trying to talk myself out of this audition. I mean, I’m getting way too old for this. When it came time to dance, I was easily the oldest person by 10 years. But then I’d hear Joe whispering in my ear, “Follow your bliss,” and I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.
I’m not sure if I’ll get cast in this show, particularly because of a conflict which will be a great opportunity for my blog, another passion. I will be sorely disappointed, but at least I’ll never have to wonder. I took the risk. The rest is out of my hands.
Maybe community theatre isn’t Broadway. I don’t care anymore. I’m doing the thing I love, and the size and scale have become irrelevant. People think it’s crazy when you show up at the office and tell them about dancing with a giant pretzel on your head, or you try to explain why you have to go to work today with finger waves in your hair. But I’m living my own life, not theirs. It makes me wildly happy.
Please, please, please, don’t give up on the thing that makes you wildly happy. Sometimes the path to it can be so shrouded, you hardly know it exists, but you just have to find it.You simply must. As much as we all need money to survive, it might not actually make the world go around. Find a way to squeeze some bliss into your reality. You will smile more, and fall in love with life every time. It can be frightening, but the risk, once taken, is well worth the reward.
Go be awesome. Take back your power. Follow your bliss and love life.