Aside

Are You Experiencing Bliss?

Today, I mark my 44th birthday. People often wish people happiness or joy on birthdays. For some reason, I am not a fan of these sentiments. They seem sappy and fleeting. It’s the reason why I never make my birthday visible on Facebook. Saying Happy Birthday in some meaningless post once a year does not a connection make. But this year, I’ve found a word for birthdays that I like better than “happy”. I bought a piece of art on it yesterday. When I saw it, I thought … yes, I am in a state of bliss. But not bliss in the way of flower bouquets, or well-wrapped gifts, or lots of facebook posts, or any other such thing. Not a function of fleeting perfectness, this bliss is altogether … rough.

(Art by Marie Cameron, Bliss, 2012)

This bliss is enduring. In the ways that writing can mean you run through 100 ideas before you find the one investing more energy in. In the way that you are challenged to be clear about what you care about. In the way the kiddo demands you show the clear boundary so it’s clear you are paying attention. In the way that you form a question, rather than try to pose that you already know the answer. In the ways you trust things will work out even when they are not looking so good right now.  Bliss not in the prettiness, but in the roughness. Bliss in the tension of the creative act that is in process, not done. Bliss in the being, not the doing, or achieving.

Or, as Rumi said, where you find it.

“and they asked him, master,
tell us about bliss…

and he smiled as if
within himself, he heard the
angels laughing at the blameless
comedy of human life

bliss, he said, is where you find it…”

Bliss is where you find it. An attitude, not an outcome. Hmm. Yes, that’s what we ought to wish one another. Bliss.

Are you experiencing bliss, too? How so…

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10 Responses:

  1. Malyn. January 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm  |  

    Happy blissful birthday and thru the year.

    Rumi’s notion of Bliss is a fairly new one for me. it struck me so that I had to blog about it myself. So, rather than re-hash, I’ll just link to it and perhaps you can come by too: On Bliss and Passion

    I actually even made my own Bliss art (pic in post). It’s fascinating to see how this one word – and deep concept – is fairly unknown and yet touches deeply.

    Reply
  2. Chris Oestereich. January 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm  |  

    I’m reminded of the following lines from Björk’s “All is Full of Love.” (Video: http://youtu.be/AjI2J2SQ528)

    “Maybe not from the sources
    You have poured yours
    Maybe not from the directions
    You are staring at

    Twist your head around
    It’s all around you”

    It’s there. Find it.

    Reply
    • Chris Oestereich. January 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm  |  

      Got caught up in posting my comment and forgot to wish you a Happy Birthday. (How rude…)

      Happy Birthday and many blissful returns!

      Reply
      • Nilofer Merchant. January 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm  |  

        Thanks, Chris.

        Reply
  3. Carol Sanford. January 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm  |  

    May this anniversary of you birth give the world joy and thereby your soul food. That is my source of bliss which sometimes I am awake enough to ‘catch’ and sometimes asleep and miss it. Thanks for sharing and asking a question that I will now ponder for awhile and get back to you.

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. January 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm  |  

      Carol –
      Yes, my soul is fed when I know that these ideas around how we come to our own fearlessness at work are spreading. Thanks for being a part of that.

      Reply
  4. CoCreatr. January 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm  |  

    Bliss to you, Ms. Nilofer. We meet virtually for the first time on this blog, so I just share that I do the same about my birthday, and I routinely ignore the birthday popups on Skype, facebook and the like. Meant to probably recreate a bit of the happy childhood feeling, the virtual variety of birthday cards just says “cheap”. So no congratulations from me if that makes you happy.

    Reply
  5. Charlie. January 30, 2012 at 1:40 pm  |  

    On birthdays I tend to look back over the previous 365 days and reflect if I’ve accomplished the goals I’ve strived for. More specifically, whether or not the last year I’ve made a meaningful impact on my families lives, my friends and colleagues and how I’ve grown spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually. It’s a gauge on how I feel come birthday time. I suspect you may do the same Nilofer and if you do, please know you make a difference.

    Reply
  6. The Buffy Project. March 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm  |  

    Great article. I discovered you through Tech Superwomen (mentors/mentees) and by chance started reading this birthday article. I too, am not exactly a fan of the greeting in passing. I did however, like very much your description of bliss and its call to action. That for a birthday seems like a beautiful proud and courageous invitation to mine my life for joy and happiness and meaning and this year especially, it resonates. Perhaps, too, because (as I noticed in retrospect) we share the date.

    Belatedly wishing you bliss.

    Reply
    • Nilofer Merchant. March 6, 2012 at 3:23 am  |  

      Yeah, we share a date AND it resonates. What more could a blogger ask for?

      Reply

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