A new friend texted me yesterday asking if I had read “War of Art.” I told him I had and that it was a great book. We quickly delved into talking about the artist and the idea of the Muse. We decided that this would be a great topic for a podcast and we’ll be recording Wednesday. I don’t find it a coincidence that I’m reading a book at the moment where this idea is explored more deeply.
I’m reading “Pathways to Bliss,” by one of my favorite humans, Joseph Campbell. The focus of this book is to offer myths and stories that demonstrate, when one follows their bliss, life transforms.
“For years I’ve watched this whole business of young people deciding on their careers. There are only two attitudes: one is to follow your bliss; and the other is to read the projections as to where the money is going to be when you graduate.”
He is clear. Do not follow the projections. Follow your bliss. Your bliss is;
“That deep sense of being present, of doing what you absolutely must do to be yourself.”
This may seem a little vague, but he elaborates.
“There lives in us, says Durckheim, a life wisdom. We are all manifestations of a mystic power: the power of life, which has shaped all life, and which has shaped us all in our mother’s womb. And this kind of wisdom lives in us, and it represents the force of this power, this energy. It’s an energy that comes from a realm beyond our powers of knowledge. And that energy becomes bound in each of us – in this body – to a certain commitment.”
The transcendent energy, the force that creates life, gets contained within our bodies in a specific way. It wishes to release itself towards a certain commitment. The people and things we are attracted to at our youngest ages are the hints.
”Your bliss can guide you to that transcend mystery, because bliss is the welling up of the energy of the transcendent wisdom within you. So when the bliss cuts off the welling up; try to find it again. And that will be your Heremes guide, the dog that can follow the invisible trail for you. And that’s the way it is. One works out one’s own myth that way.”
I think this is a key to modern mental health. Connect with your bliss. Follow it. Follow your myth, even when, (and it will), conflicts with the modern cultural myth. Be weird. Journey down your unique path.
Campbell ends this chapter with an Arthurian myth. The knights of the Round set off to find the Holy Grail;
“They thought it a disgrace to go fourth in a group. Each entered the Forest Adventurous at that point which he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no way or path.”
You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there’s a way or path, it is someone else’s path; each human being is a unique phenomenon.
The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.”