2014 was a heck of a year and it ended with a nice climax for me. I finished my Master of Liberal Studies program in December and published my first nonfiction book. I was ecstatic when I received the printed copies of my nearly 2-years-worth of effort. To hold something you created in your hands is joy; it reminds you that you are capable of so much. Now that the graduation smoke has cleared and the holiday chaos has passed, I’m left with a burning philosophical question: Now what? Now what do I do?
I’ve set my book up for sale, but I honestly don’t expect to sell a thousand copies, or even just one. It’s on a rather specific topic: conservation of the Salt River. Truthfully, it doesn’t bother me that the work will be obscure. I didn’t write it to be famous or to pay the bills (although that would be something!). I wrote to share it with anyone who might want to see the river in the same way that I see her, for those who never knew what was just beyond those canals and dams. It was liberating to be able to uncover that information and to muse a little. Discovering and sharing that discovery made me happy; it still does. So, while everyone thinks I should aggressively push this book on the market and trumpet my so-called success, what I find myself doing is sitting back and thinking: I just want to write! Why can’t I just keep writing? I plan to continue my musings, fiction and nonfiction, even if they are only shared with my sons in a dusty box when I’m old. The act of writing is more important to me than the recognition. I see a transformation in myself each time I set out to speak with my mind on screen or paper. It makes me happy.
We’re constantly advised in this life to follow our bliss, to do what makes us happy because that will make us successful in life. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but I suppose it depends on what you think success and happiness really are. I’m no expert on life, but I can say with some certainty that happiness is more than a feeling and success is more than what is measurable. What we look for is really purpose, but purpose isn’t wrapped neatly into one package either. I could say my purpose is to be a writer, photographer, wife, or mother… those things are important to me and I shape my world around them, but if I really take a good hard look at the way life works, pursuing one or all of those things with everything I’ve got is not going to make me happy; it’s going to burn me to cinders.
I think all life as meaning and even the boring or bad moments are pieces of a greater part of our existence. However, I know that what drives me can change from moment to moment. Humans are fickle, curious creatures and that’s okay. We’ve done some amazing things because we’ve looked for what makes us happy, what keeps us motivated. The main thing to remember about those people who seemed to have found their bliss, those famous names that made an impact in our world, they did something… DID something… anything… They used the time and materials given to them and did the best they could with them because they noticed vision and direction in that moment. When that moment dissipated into time, they moved on to another moment. Bliss is simply the continued creation of things, moments included, that have meaning to you. It doesn’t have to change the world as long as it changes your life for the better. And you don’t have to be satisfied with everything to be blissful. Things can always be better and a healthy dose of craving keeps us moving forward.
Last year I loved and discovered and created and it made me exceedingly happy. I’ve already found my bliss; it’s in life itself. My challenge for this year, and each year hereafter, is to do something with it. At this moment, there’s only one book on my shelf with my name on it. Perhaps by 2016 there will be another. Who knows? I’ll be content with the journey either way.