February 13


Yearning for Meaning, Follow Your Bliss: Guest Post

By Cynthia Barlow

February 13, 2018

follow your bliss, personal development, sailing

“You don’t know what you’re going to get into when you follow your bliss.” -James Hillman

I listen to people for a living (as well as for fun—I’m lucky that way). They tell me things, like what’s really bugging them, or their dreams, or their fears. Some express wistful desires for a “fresh start.” 

But it’s not so much about their job or relationship, it’s about the meaning—or lack thereof—they find in the job or relationship. That’s what they really want.

Especially nowadays, our little boats are getting tossed around in a global sea of uncertainty, exacerbating the desire for new beginnings.

Some harbour a fantasy of “escaping it all,” of building a cabin in the woods, or getting a real boat and sailing warmer waters down south.

Follow your bliss

Boni & John on S/V Ingenium
Boni & John on S/V Ingenium

I have friends who run a publishing company from their boat whilst sailing the ocean blue off the coast of Mexico.

All year. It’s their home.


Before you think, “must be nice,” think about the hassle involved to get to that place, living on a boat, running a business from a boat.

You really up for that? Probably not. Way too much work. And besides, without meaningful work of some kind, you’d be bored to tears after 3 months, believe me, and already looking for your next “fresh start.”

For my friends, it wasn’t simply the physical down-sizing and relocating from Toronto to an ocean—all the planning, which took years—it was the emotional transition that best prepared them to follow their dream.

Emotional engagement manufactures meaning

Here’s what I mean by that: these guys knew why they wanted this lifestyle, they were clear on the emotional needs that propelled the change itself. They weren’t running away from a life they found empty or meaningless, rather they were marching toward one that held more meaning for them as a couple in their 50’s in good health.

It wasn’t about escaping from themselves, it was about committing to themselves. They were sailors. They wanted water. They wanted a simpler life, a healthier life. And a sail boat, so they marched toward that.

Because once you get clear on something, it doesn’t take a long time to pull the trigger. Suddenly, the energy and focus is there. It’s right there.

It becomes real and people act from that. They can see it, and they move toward that vision. That’s what having “a fire in your belly” means.

Joseph Campbell said, “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

However, don’t confuse bliss with happiness. It doesn’t mean a life void of obstacles or challenges, my friends had plenty of them.

Bliss means meaning—engaging in a meaningful way of life—and moving through the obstacles because you are clear it’s important for your emotional well-being.

I think that when folks sigh and say they want a fresh start, what they mean is they want to find their bliss, which means that their doing flows from their being: it’s not a place, it’s a state.

And that’s an inward journey, one which will allow you to sail the seas of uncertainty with a degree of certainty, toward a shore out of sight.

“Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path… this is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.” ~James Hillman

Ingenium Books: Yearning for Meaning, Follow Your Bliss was originally published at Cynthia Barlow’s website: www.c3conversations.com. We thank Cynthia for being part of our journey, and for permission to share her post. 

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