A friend sent me this neat quote the other day.
The author of the quote is the inimitable Joseph Campbell. He wrote it in 1987 when he was 83 years old:
Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss. Most people are concerned with other things. They get themselves involved in economic and political activities, or get drafted into a war that isn’t the one they’re interested in, and it may be difficult to hold to this umbilical under those circumstances. That is a technique each one has to work out for himself somehow.
But most people living in that realm of what might be called occasional concerns have the capacity that is waiting to be awakened to move to this other field. I know it, I have seen it happen in students.
When I taught in a boys’ prep school, I used to talk to the boys who were trying to make up their minds as to what their careers were going to be. A boy would come to me and ask, “Do you think I can do this? Do you think I can do that? Do you think I can be a writer?”
“Oh,” I would say, “I don’t know. Can you endure ten years of disappointment with nobody responding to you, or are you thinking that you are going to write a best seller the first crack? If you have the guts to stay with the thing you really want, no matter what happens, well, go ahead.”
Then Dad would come along and say, “No, you ought to study law because there is more money in that, you know.” Now, that is the rim of the wheel, not the hub, not following your bliss.
Are you going to think of fortune, or are you going to think of your bliss?
I came back from Europe as a student in 1929, just three weeks before the Wall Street crash, so I didn’t have a job for five years. There just wasn’t a job. That was a great time for me. [emphasis added]
Now, I would love to pretend that I knew who Joseph Campbell was before I got this neat quote. But I didn’t. And this is precisely why I love mentoring so much!
In reading his words, “That was a great time for me”, I suddenly realized that “Joe”, as he was commonly called by colleagues and friends, and I know each other – if not in the physical realm (Mr. Campbell has since passed on from this world) then certainly in the realm of human struggle and the reliance of the inner spirit.
In other words, Joe is one of my mentors.
Joe is a mentor to me because Joe understands something I am still struggling and striving every day to learn, which is that patience is needed to transcend the ups and downs of life, recovery, love, work, and any other great goal we may set for ourselves.
In the quote here, Joe says in just seven short words what I have so often struggled to say, let alone believe in – is this is a great time for me? is everything okay? or is my world falling apart? will i ever recover from this (whatever it is at that time)? could I even be having fun with this time if I wasn’t worrying so much?
According to Joe, the answer is a firm YES.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you often struggle against your circumstances, wondering if this “horrible time” is really one of the best periods of your life? Is it a time, perhaps, when you will learn more, grow more, expand more, strive more, open more, believe more, accept more, live more, love more, than at any moment that has preceded it? What about your current difficulties in life – if any – might shift in favor of easing your stress and boosting your joy if you tried Joe Campbell’s words on for size – “That was a great time for me”.
p.s. Thanks go out to the work of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, an organization that ensure that the work and words of one of our greatest teachers and literary contributors is preserved and promoted even today.
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Last reviewed: 16 Jul 2012