Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are You Following Your Bliss?

Over the last few years, I’ve deliberately stopped watching the news on television or listening to it on the radio. I’ve made a concerted effort to avoid hearing about world events on the Internet as well, which has been exceedingly more difficult lately since I spend a fair amount of time on Facebook and Twitter during the week. It’s virtually impossible to ignore what others post and to not read their reactions to current headlines. This has made me question my decision to shut out such broadcasts. Most of the reports just made me angry or sad, so I have to ask whether I’ve allowed myself to become oblivious to the global condition by closing my eyes to all of the unpleasant information. The answer to that is a resounding, “No!”

Why did I stop watching the news in the first place, you may wonder. The main reason I turned off the news wasn’t because I didn’t want to know what was going on in the world around me, but because I loathed the way in which this information was hurled at me. I recently watched a news broadcast and was completely appalled by what I heard, which only reinforced my initial decision to be more selective about where I got my information. I can’t remember the story, only that the anchor offered a snippy personal comment immediately following the deliverance of certain facts. To hear the words, “Really? Come on!” so irreverently uttered from the mouth of someone who is supposed to be a professional journalist simply blew my mind.

Has journalism really sunk to such repulsive depths? What happened to reporting just the facts? Opinions are meant for editorials, never news reporting. When I studied journalism, we had five rules drilled into our heads about the contents of a report: who, what, when, where, and how. The “why” of a story usually never factored in unless it was associated with quotes obtained from key contributors to give readers a better understanding of their actions. Reporters are messengers who bring information to the people; their opinions about those messages bear no relevance whatsoever unless someone else interviews them later about their reactions to it for another story.

Having said that, I suppose that reporters have always had to employ a bit of sensationalism to ensure that they capture the audience and do it better than any other. As with all other programming, even the news reports will always be about gaining the highest ratings. After all, companies won’t advertise during their timeslot if the news isn’t juicy enough to garner the most viewers. It’s a prime example of greed at its finest – or at its worst, depending on your point of view. Capitalism is a wonderful concept until greed rears its ugly head, but that’s a topic for another blog.

After coming to the realization that the evil media mongers have corrupted news journalism and turned it into the worst possible form of reality television under the guise of entertainment, my original decision to avoid the news was the right choice for me. I felt validated. However, I also felt out of touch with what was going on in the world, which is when I started paying attention to the postings of others on the social media pages. By reading the headlines, however, I finally concluded that as much as things change, the more things stay the same.

Murder, genocide, assault, rape, child abuse, theft, drugs, tyranny, oppression, slavery in some form or fashion, and perversion still exist all over our planet. Greed and corruption still drives the ambitions of world leaders. Individual freedom is still being deprived in many parts of the world. Wars are still being waged in the name of God (a concept I will never understand, by the way). The human population still disregards Mother Earth. Certain plants and animals are still becoming endangered or extinct. Horrible things still happen to good and innocent people. All the bad things that happen still get top billing over anything good and wonderful. Same stuff, different day.

Unfortunately, we are by nature a people who have an insatiable, masochistic need to fill our minds with all the atrocities of war, the unfathomable ways in which one human being treats another with unspeakable cruelty, the needless suffering of others. We are basically an unhappy society who consoles itself with the knowledge that others live more intolerable lives than we do. Despite a growing recycling movement and education about conservation and preservation, most Americans still prefer to remain ignorant to the pillaging and hoarding of natural resources, and they blatantly disregard the very planet we call our home. Our world is in jeopardy, barely functioning in a chaotic and crippling mode. We live in fear, react with panic and anger, and ironically hope for the best.

I’ve just painted a rather grim picture by using sensationalism to more poignantly get my message across. Got your attention, though, didn’t it? You might now be entertaining the notion that we live in a pretty awful place and are completely beyond redemption. I hope not. My point was merely to show that not much has changed since we began to inhabit Earth. The way that I react to all of this insanity around me, however, has changed. I choose not to wallow in the misery that is our home, but instead choose to focus on finding the goodness that surely must also exist. After all, there can be no darkness without the light.

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from one of the Star Wars films, where Yoda told Anakin  Skywalker, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Smart little dude, that Yoda. I suppose after living some 900 years, one might develop a sense of wisdom about such things. Anakin feared losing his mother, and when he did, he went into a rage. He hated those took her and let her die. He agonized over it. Later, he feared losing Padmé and became angry over the news of her death. At that point, he must have hated everyone and everything, which led to the suffering of many, including himself.

How many of us have crossed over to the dark side? I don’t mean how many have become evil villains who have set out on a tyrannical rampage. Rather, how many of us cling to our dark thoughts, our loneliness, our anxiety, our anger, our hatred? Why do we have such a difficult time letting go of destructive emotions that only serve to hold us captive in an unfulfilling life? Why do we feed the frenzy of sensationalistic new reporting? Must we wallow in all that is bad?

Several theories come to mind when I try to make sense of all the madness, the foremost being that we, as a society, are an unforgiving and judgmental people. We are judged not by our successes, but by our failures. We conform to the masses to avoid being singled out as different, often resulting in unfulfilling and mediocre lives. I’m okay with being different. So many people are uncomfortable with their uniqueness and, in their efforts to conform, forget that it is our very differences that are the most appealing. Variety is indeed the spice of life. If I believed in hell, it would certainly freeze over the day that everyone on this planet shared the same beliefs, thought the same ideas, and looked exactly alike.

Each and every one of us have a dream. There are things we enjoy doing, things we are passionate about. These things motivate us. However, when we consistently face challenges that prevent us from living our dreams, of following our bliss, we become bitter and angry – and we all know where that leads. So how do we overcome the obstacles that prevent us from being happy? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for that question, but I can say that if I personally choose to focus only on all of the negativity, I will most assuredly live a life of perpetual unhappiness. I cannot allow myself to become so overwhelmed with the dark forces in this world that I forget to focus on following my bliss. Therefore, in my effort to seek out balance, I willingly turn off the television and focus instead on ways I can bring healing to the world around me. My own challenge then lies in avoiding ignorance and I have to ask myself, “At what point do I start listening again at the expense of my own comfort?” A question I pose to each of you as well.

There is a ray of hope – several actually. Hope resides in the hearts of those willing to take a stand and do something to right the wrongs, even if it means just passing along the information to others. By doing so, we might allow ourselves to become indignant enough to take that information and pass it farther along, possibly even becoming motivated enough to act upon it ourselves. One powerful example of this lies with the sharing of a video clip wherein an eloquent speech was given by Severn Suzuki to the United Nations in 1992. This clip is almost twenty years old, yet it’s still making the rounds. If you aren’t already familiar with it, I invite you to hear for yourself the compelling words: The Girl Who Silenced The World For 5 Minutes.

Am I oblivious to the global condition? No. Do I care about what’s going on? Definitely. While I’m fully aware of all the darkness, I also choose to acknowledge and focus on the light. In fact, I see more and more people making an effort to raise the consciousness level of our society and that reassures me that we aren’t doomed. Through all of the gloom that has blanketed this world over time, we are making strides in evolving. I admire and commend all of the Lightworkers, people who help make this world a better place by enlightening us, healing us. While these people possess a special gift, I believe we all have the potential to become Lightworkers. The attainment of the highest individual human potential begins with the simplest of notions, which also happens to apparently be the most difficult of tasks: following your bliss.

Happy people don’t wage wars. People who lead fulfilling lives don’t need to destroy others. Imagine what kind of world this would be if more people were happy. Are we sacrificing our potential by continually depriving ourselves of happiness? Ask yourself what brings you the most satisfaction. Do you like to paint? Do you enjoy teaching children? What is your bliss?

My bliss is writing. I’ve ignored it for years and for years I was unhappy, dissatisfied. When I’m writing, I feel empowered. My words are my strength. I live in my imagination and it brings me great joy when I can translate that into stories to share with others. I am an author, a storyteller. For years I thought that making such a statement was somehow conceited, but it’s who I am, it’s what I do. To deny that about myself would make me very unhappy.

Find your bliss. Discover your passions and weave them into your life. If by some wonderful coincidence your bliss helps others, then I encourage it all the more.

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