I wasn’t familiar with Joseph Campbell’s life story and work until the six-segment PBS special “The Power of Myth” was first broadcast in 1988. Campbell (1904-1987) theorized that myths and stories are universally similar, no matter where and when people have lived. These myths and stories have helped us understand the importance and value of connection and belonging, and provided guidance and illumination when navigating life challenges, setbacks and opportunities.
Campbell highlighted another universal theme, the appearance and formidable power of “hidden hands” guiding our lives, supporting us in myriad, unexpected ways, when we trust and remain open to their presence. One of my favorite quotes from him was to “follow your bliss.” In 1999 this quote became my guiding star upon leaving an unsatisfying university teaching career. Looking back, I navigated an unorthodox and at times jumbled path that perplexed many people around me. Thankfully and ultimately, though, this trajectory has led to the deep nature connection work I enjoy and love sharing with others today.
To quote Campbell:
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
By following my bliss I’ve learned to trust my intuition and instincts better. I’ve developed greater discernment and less attachment toward conflicting societal expectations and demands. I’ve shed my proverbial skin quite a few times, breaking free from cul-de-sacs and dead ends to create new pathways moving forward.
A line from the song “This Is Your Life” from The Killers also comes to mind: “You gotta be stronger than the story.”
We’re all capable and worthy of changing our stories, and deeper, more consistent connection with the natural world can be a powerful catalyst for helping us do that. Now is an especially powerful time to dream big, be proactive and courageous, given the speed and scale in which many lives have been upended with the Covid-19 pandemic.
For everyone, there is no going back to “normal,” to the way things were before the pandemic arrived. That was a past moment in time, and wishing to go back there takes us out from being present.
So how do we stay present and move forward?
Embrace possibility, most importantly, that things can turn out even better than you imagine.
Believe in yourself and your capacity to keep changing, learning, and growing.
Embolden and encourage the same in others.
Recognize your hidden depths. strengths and resources and bring them forth.
Acknowledge and welcome unseen forces for good in your life and in the lives of others.
Learn from nature and you will learn more about yourself. It’s a powerful, positive way to impact your life and everyone around you.
Keep following your bliss, and always enjoy the journey!