Posted by kari.petroschmidt
If following your bliss was easy, everyone would be doing it. At least that is what I keep telling myself while I try to follow mine. For me this includes writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy, going back to University to study German and bass guitar, and last but not least, starting Throw Like a Girl. None of these endeavours is a sure-fire way of making me enough money to support myself, let alone making a fortune, but I am pursuing them anyway. Why? Because life is short and by taking the different path, you could find yourself doing things you never imagined.
How did I decide to finally go for it? A few years ago, I almost drowned. So cliché. There I was, in my wetsuit with my boogie board, swept far out by a riptide, my lead tangled under my leg, being pummelled by big wave after big wave. The first thought that came to my head (after *Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap* and after I quit screaming for help when I realized everyone was too far away) was, “Nooooo! I am not ending like this! I haven’t done anything yet!”
That wasn’t entirely true. I’d studied hard. I had degrees. I taught Montessori school and tutored. I started writing and had several stories published already. Even though I’d had major stomach issues for almost 10 years which put a crimp on my daily and working life, I managed to get myself well enough to the point where I could travel around the world with my partner and enjoy myself. However, I was increasingly feeling that there was something missing, something intrinsic to my being. So, while I was twirling around under water, detaching my wrist from the lead on my boogie so I could unwind it from my leg (and then hopefully re-attach it without losing the boogie board), I made a promise to myself. If I got out of this alive, I would begin to re-construct my life…no matter where it took me. In order to do that, I had to follow my bliss.
In life, there comes a time where you simply have to choose whether to take The Chance. Perhaps this is part of the human condition. I often frame this thought around the issue of why we should keep exploring the galaxy. We have problems on this earth that we need fixing. Obviously. So, why should we bother flying shuttles to space? Don’t we have enough things to do here on terra firma? Well, I think if we don’t continue to reach beyond ourselves, we stagnate as a species. I think we need to keep attempting what seems implausible or even impossible. That we owe it to ourselves to apply this to our everyday lives as well – in the smallest of ways, right to the biggest ideas – from trying that Scottish restaurant to saying hi to that person you think you could never have a meaningful conversation with, to applying for that job you think you will never get in a million years, to going back to university to study a new language and a new instrument, to starting an organization that you hope can change people’s lives and maybe the world.
Making my way slowly back to shore that day as calmly as I could, trying to riding the froth in front of the big waves without swallowing gallons of water, I thought, “You can do this. You have to. And tomorrow, you’re going to get right back in.”
And I did.
How do you follow your bliss? You choose to live it.
The Road Less Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claimBecause it was grassy and wanted wear,Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I marked the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to wayI doubted if I should ever come back.I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost
Natasha J. Stillman is the Director of Throw Like a Girl (competing in Audacious this semester) and a Dunedin based writer who is following her bliss.