Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Follow Your Bliss

Joseph Campbell popularized this phrase in his interviews with Bill Moyers in the early 1980's (I think). Here's the quote from the Joseph Campbell Foundation:

If you ... follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.
My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.

I always hated it.

I mean, the sentiment was all well and good, but like Karin Kinsella's reaction to the voices her husband hears in Field of Dreams, my reaction was "I hate it when they talk like that." In other words, what does this mean? And like so much else having to do with enlightenment, the answer was right in front of me, and I never saw it. Right now, I'm going with:

Femdom is my bliss.

How did I come to this conclusion? It's the "place" where I go when I'm tired, or when I need to recharge. It's the place that I'm almost never too tired to think about or pursue.

It also reminds me that "your bliss" is often not something that's comfortable or something that fits in to your life, or that fits in to the conception of who you think you are. Often it requires giving something up. So the only question I have is, "How does this differ from an obession?" Or a compulsion? Or an addiction?

Over on "Candace's" blog she's been doing an interesting inquiry into the limits of dominance and submission. Along with that came an inquiry into dignity and trust. Buried deep in the comments to that post was my first attempt at setting out some thoughts on this: that the same act can be functional or dysfunctional, loving or abusive, depending on how it plays out in the psychies of the people participating. So it's really much less about the behavior than about how the behavior plays out for those involved.

Back in prehistory I did a modest (I think - by the standards of these things) amount of therapy with a guy I really liked, about my interest in femdom. I think he liked it enough to put me in one of his books; I'm not sure what kind of flattery that was! Through whatever process, we ended up at an "addiction" metaphor for this interest, and it's one I've carried around for about 6 or 7 years. It gave a special sense of immediacy to those I know who are dealing with alchohol addictions, and I've seen what it's done to their lives. It wasn't something I was happy carrying around, but also wasn't something I was ready to address - as in going to "Sex/Love Addicts Anonymous" - yes the 12-step model for "sexual addiction."

As a result of reading the blogs I've come across (mostly, but not all yet linked over on the right) I think I'm changing that metaphor. The reason I'm so reluctant to take so much of this at face value is because it challenges that metaphor. If you really can have a loving, caring, functional relationship that strongly explores power exchange, dominance and submission, then the addiction model becomes much less relevant. And what does that say about me and having had an unfulfilled life not "following my bliss?"


Lady Julia said...

Jamie, I really enjoyed reading this post.

"Femdom is my bliss.

How did I come to this conclusion? It's the "place" where I go when I'm tired, or when I need to recharge. It's the place that I'm almost never too tired to think about or pursue."

This is a wonderful expression of what a FemDom relationship means and I suspect that many submissive men will be able to identify with your words.

Thanks for the interesting blog. I'll be sure and tell people about it :)

saratoga said...

Hi Jamie-

Nice blog. I had not realized you began this, and linked to mine, until it kept showing up on my sitemeter data. I'm going to put your blog among my links, if you are ok with that.

I will freely admit that it is always nice to see another sane, reflective source from which to draw stimuli for my own writing, and on which to comment.

I have a few thoughts re: Campbell. Your own reflections are pretty interesting just as they are.

I'd add that I never found Campbell to be quite so fundamentally altering as many others, especially the wide-eyed Bill Moyers who popularized him years ago on PBS, did. Then again, what hasn't stunned Billy Jo?

Anyway, Campbell's simple prescription to 'follow your bliss' always seemed sort of overly simplistic to me.

Should Willie Sutton or Adolf Hitler have followed their blisses? Was that good for their fellow human beings?

There's an inherent danger in simply dropping everything to follow one's bliss.

So I think you are right to wonder to what extent it may morph into, or be, an addiction, if simply accepted.

Like so many other things in life, even a hardwired drive for submitting to a female in a relationship is more complicated than a simple 'follow that bliss' thing.

As usual, I nearly completely disagree with julia. No surprise there. :)

More later, probably on my blog.

btw, feel free to email me directly anytime.


Polyfetishist said...

I don't care much for the addiction model. Just about anything that excite the production of internal opiates can be thought "addictive." For me that includes conversation with friends, books and music.

Whereas Zoloft isn't considered addictive because it doesn't produce pleasure. It just leaves you wanting to kill yourself if you try to quit using it.

Not that you necessarily need a model. Some things are nearly impossible to present beyond the intuitive level. (Though I'm "addicted" to tryint to render everything explicit.)

Femdom is my bliss is a lovely way of putting it.

Jackson said...

Great blog Jamie. I'm grateful to Lady Julia for linking to you.

I have a comment to saratoga about his snide remark about Lady Julia but I will leave it on my blog out of respect for you.

Her said...

In my life, I tend to live by the credo that "it's only a problem if it is a problem for you".

Some people intake alcohol without a problem, some people become addicted. How can you tell the difference? IMO, the problems the said activity creats in your life.

For us, and I only speak for us, we found that D/s greatly enhanced our lives, rather than causing problems it solved some confusion within our marriage and some long held pain within each of us. Therefore, in our case, I see D/s as an activity rather than an addiction.

Great blog, thought provoking.

VeezKnight said...

Goddess V has always told me pretty much the same thing: follow your heart. And ya know, it usually works. I wouldn't worry too much about what "analysts" say or the labels they attach. Addiction? FemDom an addiction? Mmmm, not in my opinion.

Regarding obsession, many of the self-help, success gurus will tell you that in order to be good, really good at anything in this life, you need to be very dedicated and, in a word, obcessed with it. I think most people who excel at anything will agree. Why should a relationship, be it vanilla or FemDom, be any different. I truly believe a strong relationship takes a great deal of dedication, work, obcession... whatever to make and keep it healthy and growing on all levels.

Regarding comments and advice we vistors to your blog feel compelled to give you, my advice to you is to simply follow your heart. I personally feel that Lady Julia is as tuned into this as any, and far more than some.