The Backside of Bliss


October 25, 2020. “Follow your dreams and find your bliss,” the self-help gurus say.

Ah, but there is often a backside in this path towards dreams and bliss. Not a dark side, or a bad side. Just a backside. I’m bumping into it as we chop, drag, burn and scrape to create a big open space at Camp Many Moons — a space big enough for a cabin.

My original dream here was to help other people find peace in nature, as I do. For the past three years, though, my own peace has been paramount–and it came through the rustic nature of this place. I’ve explored every square foot, and watched different elements of nature emerge in different seasons. I’ve watched the ferns and mushrooms and wildflowers come and go. I’ve admired the resilience of the bull thistle even as I pulled them up by the dozens. I’ve come to know the trees, in all their seasons; I’ve grieved when they were injured, and even bound them up to heal when possible.

Now, I’ve killed off more of that rugged space to make room for more developed space. In order to have guests, I need indoor plumbing and a secure living space. In order to stay here in winter, I need the same thing myself.

This is the next phase of my dream, so it is necessary–but also sad. So am I missing out on bliss? I don’t think so.

Bliss is that “total joy” that supposedly arrives when dreams are fulfilled. But the backside of bliss is not a “totality” … it’s parts of this and parts of that. Part compromise and part commitment. Part certainty and part doubt. Part joy and part grief.

Perhaps some people take the straight path up to the mountaintop of bliss — if, indeed, there is such a place. But I suspect most are like me, taking the winding road around the backside and wondering at times if they’re even on the right path.

And that’s ok! As another wise person told us, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

And Camp Many Moons is a process, not a goal.

I’m still sad. But I realize I’m just where I’m supposed to be. The next step will evolve as it should.

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