Free Press Archives
BABY STEPS TOWARD YOUR
By Dalton Roberts
Chattanooga Times Free Press
If you fail to follow your bliss in your work, doctors say your stomach
may develop a blister.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell coined the phrase, "Follow your
bliss." Dr. John Ciardi said about the same thing to a medical
convention: "An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking
its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, a neglected
music, an unpainted watercolor, an undanced dance. It is a declaration
from the mankind of a man that a clear spring of joy has not been
tapped, and that it must break through muddily on it's own."
At an early age I discovered this to be true. After being turned inside
out by an internist, I was told there was no physical reason for my
stomach pain. The doctor asked if I enjoyed my job and I confessed that
I did not. He flatly said, "Quit it."
I could see no way to leave the job so I spent two years taking tincture
of belladonna to calm angry innards. Eventually, it did become an ulcer.
How do you quit a job that doesn't tap into that inner "clear
spring of job" the doctor described? I had a wife and two kids and
simply saw no way out. At that time, I was not trained to do anything
Since my rescue was unspectacular, maybe the practical tips I discovered
will be helpful to you. The first one is to start doing what you love as
much as you can until you can make a part or all of your living at it.
The time devoted to one of your great loves will be healing time for
you. Sure, you will be tired when you come home from the daily grind.
Just do what you can when you can and don't feel you must force yourself
to make time for it. Remain open to each little window of opportunity.
Some blissful jobs are difficult to crack. You may have to content
yourself to do them throughout your life as a part-time hobby.
Songwriting has been that way with me. I couldn't see moving to
Nashville and jumping through the hoops when family responsibilities
were pressing me. When I reached the point where I could afford to take
the plunge, I was having so much fun doing it my way that I realized I
had lost interest in doing it any other way.
Writer Sark, author of "The Book of Bodacious Succulence"and
ten other equally interesting titles, says she wrote all her books
through a method she calls "micro movements." These are tiny
baby steps that take five minutes or less. Rather than whine all day and
keep yourself demoralized, why not take some baby steps in the direction
of your dreams?
Another key is to constantly increase your inventory of "suitcase
skills." These are abilities that fit into many occupations, like
typing, computer expertise, speaking, foreign languages and writing, You
may want to have second, third and fourth choice vocational trainings.
The U.S. Department of Labor says retraining will be a way of life for
American workers from now on. Since that's the reality, why not become
double, triple and quadruple threats? Then when the job market changes,
flow right into a new way of working.
There's no guarantee you will be able to give full-time to your number
one bliss but there is no doubt you can enhance your chances through
these techniques. The younger you are the greater are your chances. I
have often thought if I was eighteen again, I would I would immediately
get to the work I love most if I had to live on pintos and cornbread.
Campbell insisted our best chance for monetary success was in doing what
we love instead of what we hate. Makes sense. It also makes sense to get
to it as early in life as possible, but it is never too late to start.