When I was in graduate school, a popular bumper sticker read Follow Your Bliss. That Joseph Campbell line has followed me for years, and it’s only now, in my forties, that I realize I terribly misunderstood this line. I was hung up on the notion of bliss as a static state, this misguided notion that happiness is something you might be able to square off and define, that happiness might be a finite destination.
Follow Your Bliss seemed to imply a life of milk and honey, where children are always chubby-cheeked and houses never burn down. When I read Campbell, I didn’t stop to realize that doors opening also means there are times when every door appears slammed shut, and the way out impassable. I think now I would rewrite this line to Work hard, have faith, and laugh. Keep your eyes savvy and don’t forget to stretch your hands out for others. All that’s in Campbell, slow learner that I am.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.
A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:
As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.
– Joseph Campbell