Joseph Campbell urged us to “follow your bliss.” Follow your bliss to a fulfilling life. That became “follow your passion,” advice that has been popular on corporate inspirational posters but has been more widely protested than praised. With good reason. What if you don’t have a passion? What if what gives you bliss is illegal immoral or harmful to yourself, others?
But purpose – purpose is our true North Star, something for us to follow. Straight through our final days.
Passion – what pleasures me. Bliss – what pleasures me to the point of ecstasy. Purpose – the pursuit of something outside of myself, the completion of which gives me joy.
Completion is essential for something to be a purpose. Unless an action is completed, unless it is worthwhile & benefits others as well as self, then it is an interest, not a purpose, and lacks the power to push prod propel.
Purpose expands us, makes us bigger deeper richer. Living what Rich Warren terms the “purpose-driven life” doesn’t leave us with a big head or feeling small, doesn’t make us feel insignificant or grandiose. It makes us feel right-sized, like we are taking up the just-right space we were created to fill.
Few things, if any, have given me as much deep pleasure as being The Cupcake Lady of the Bryn Athyn Farm Market. For 5 1/2 years, from the first Saturday of May to mid-October, John & I would load up the car & head to the Oak Grove, between the Bryn Athyn College Gardens & the Junge Pavilion. We’d set up under a canopy of leafy branches, a cool space on all but the hottest of days, protected from blazing sun & a light pitter patter of rain.
My joy helping children decorate their own cupcakes, under the proud eye of parents and/or grands, John by my side helping littles choose their frosting, left me feeling filled with sunshine – blazing with joy. The joy wasn’t simply at the delight of connecting, however briefly, with littles & quite a few not-so-little. It was watching their faces as they picked out THEIR cupcake, chose THEIR frosting, decided which of the sugar embellishments in the little clear heart-shaped box would be THEIR decoration. The whole purpose of cupcaking was empowerment & creativity – – for that moment in time, littles had total control of their choices. Even children with gluten allergies joined in, their parents buying a Rice Krispy Treat bar from another vendor to frost & decorate! Kids got to call the shots; John & I were at their beck & call. It didn’t make us any money, but I’m now Aunt Deev to children who didn’t know I existed before.
We don’t do Bounty anymore – the state insists all baking be in certified kitchens, which I don’t have & can’t afford to rent. The Cupcake Lady was a passion, filled me with bliss & served multi-layers of purpose, including being tagged “the heart of Bounty.” I’m still occasionally asked by this person or that organization to do a cupcake event, which always fills us with delight. Life is good.
Our focus was not on us. Trust me, if it was, there were a lot of hot muggy days we would have stayed at home, deep chilly days we would have remained snug under warm covers, sleeping. We hauled out butts out of bed because the farm market was depending on us to show up, littles (& not-so-littles) were counting on us to show up, and certain parents had used the promise of decorating a cupcake as a bribe for good behavior & were totally expecting us to be there. Through flour, sugar & butter, we were able to reach, serve & love.
Follow your passion & you might find pleasure but not bliss & often not a sense of purpose. Follow your bliss & you will certainly experience pleasure, but purpose… maybe not. But follow your purpose & you have the promise of experiencing all three wrapped up in one fabulous package.
I loved being The Cupcake Lady for more than the joy it provided to us & others. It gave John & I the opportunity to work together every week on a challenging project – packing & unpacking the car, getting there in enough time to get set up with time to spare, working with the kids, packing up & heading home. It taught me practical skills in time management that I’d missed in my younger years. It brought us together with the other vendors & with the people who love Bounty for its lovely shade, beautiful gardens, welcoming spaces & great music.
Another thing about following my purpose. When I do, the memory of the pursuit & attainment stays with me. It is the memory, the lessons learned, the purpose served that deepens enriches broadens my heart thought spirit. Follow your purpose, make that your true North Star, wrap yourself in passion & bliss.