Tag Archives: joseph campbell

Alive: Quotes for Living

Being alive.
Being really alive.
As springtime arrives and the earth is waking up from a long sleep, we’re reminded of what it means to really live, to really bloom and grow. Everyday you have the option to put yourself on autopilot, to check out of everything happening around you. But what if you really embraced being alive? What would it look like?

Here are some gentle reminders of what it means to really be alive: Continue reading

Following Bliss: An Intent Interview with Modern Mystic Alanna Kaivalya

FollowingBliss_HerosJourney_COVER_500pxAre you following your bliss? Do you even know where to start? Our newest course in the Intent Shop, “Following Bliss: A Modern Mystic’s Guide to the Hero’s Journey,” written by Alanna Kaivalya, gives you the playbook you need to find your own happiness and unlock your inner potential. Intent sat down with Alanna to ask her how the inspiration for the course came about and how she thinks it can truly help you discover your own inner hero.

INTENT: For those in the Intent community that aren’t familiar with your work, what is your background and how did you get into your field?

ALANNA: In my college years, I took a course on South Asian religions and was at once captivated by the stories within those traditions. These were myths I had never been exposed to, and the rich characters and antics immediately awakened something within me. It was right at that time that I began to teach yoga, and incorporate the stories into my classes. People loved them, and eventually I ended up writing a book on the mythology behind yoga poses called Myths of the Asanas (Mandala, 2010). During the time I was writing this book, I stumbled upon the extraordinary work of Joseph Campbell and was inspired beyond my wildest dreams by this man whose work paved the way for people to think outside the box and explore the common thread within all mythologies. I decided to embark on a program that would take me through Joseph Campbell’s own course of study so I could broaden my understanding of myth to include myths of the contemporary west. With the pursuit of my PhD while continuing to teach mythology across the country as well as the completion of my second book (Sacred Sound: Discovering the Myth and Meaning of Mantra and Kirtan, New World Library, 2014), I find myself now fully immersed in Joseph Campbell’s teaching with the unique lens of having brought it to the public in a way that allows them to unlock their own personal mythology and find the core connection to the self-empowering force of myth.

INTENT: What lead you to designing this course?

ALANNA: Joseph Campbell wrote his seminal work in 1949, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, where he looks at the common structure of the journey of the hero throughout various myths and legends around the world. Understanding how this common thread affects us now, in a time where our myths are constantly being questioned, helps us to reunite what has been broken and lost. Finding a way to track and discover our own heroic journey is a way to revivify our aliveness and take back the precious moments of our lives. Joseph Campbell asked people to “follow their bliss.” I’m showing you how.

INTENT: What does being a “modern” mystic mean to you?

ALANNA: It means taking the tools and structures that we have in this life, in this time, at this moment that are relevant and alive for us and using them to discover something more about ourselves. The time has come for us to recreate living mythologies that speak to our current modern psyche and enliven us. What is great, is that each of us already has some kind of personal belief system–figuring out exactly what that is, and what it is aligned with–is how we answer the question Carl Jung asked himself, which is “What myth do we live by?” When we know what myth we live by, what kind of hero we are, then we understand how to navigate all of life’s trials, tribulations and challenges in order to reveal something more powerful within ourselves.

INTENT: In the course you build a lot off of Joseph Campbell’s archetype for a hero – how did you find his work and what drew you to Campbell?

ALANNA: Joseph Campbell is the man behind our modern understanding of myth! You can’t go very far into an inquiry about myth without bumping into his work. He popularized the study of myth and brought to the fore the idea that there is a common theme within all mythic structures, building off of Carl Jung’s ideas of the collective unconscious and universal archetypes. Joseph Campbell, it turns out, had some pretty serious answers to my biggest questions and so I’ve come to be an admirer of his body of work and have been very interested in doing what I can to not only bring his work even further into the public eye, but also to show people the power and potential that his work can have in their own life, on a personal level.

INTENT: You say in the course that you want to take off where Campbell left off in mythology – where do you want to go with it now?

ALANNA: When Campbell died in 1987, he was on to something… that technology and the modern age would continue to accelerate and it would fundamentally change how we interact with one another and how we understand ourselves. This is true, and as a modern comparative mythologist, I’m looking at how to use our experiences of the world today to make our myths start working for us again. Basically, a living mythology activates human potential, and the human psyche has a primary need for myth in order to understand the unexplainable. There is a lot we still can’t explain–even with our technology and science–but as we learn and are able to explain more and more about our universe and condition, our mythology must be malleable enough to evolve and continue to speak to our human potential. This kind of rapid growth and learning can be embodied through our own personal mythology–what each person carries inside of them. Because each of us is now developing our own unique experience of the world, outside of the old, simpler way of living where the world experience was pretty well defined and confined to a much smaller group. On a global scale with wider, varying interests, what we believe needs to satisfy the core structure of each of us as individuals while still uniting us to the larger group.

INTENT: We are currently being bombarded with super-heroes in pop-culture, especially with the success of franchise films like Iron Man and the Avengers. What do you think makes hero stories so appealing to people? Why are they necessary for a fulfilling life?

ALANNA: Everyone needs a hero. Everyone needs someone who can show them the possibility and potential of their own human life. Knowing that someone has gone before you, enlightens you to the possibility that it maybe you can do it, too. This gives us two necessary qualities: Hope and connection. Without hope and connection, we live, in the words of T.S. Eliot, “amongst a heap of broken images.” I believe that the beauty of the Avenger’s series is that it is alive and responsive to the current times and culture. Each of the characters has a modern day twist on the hero: Iron Man is a billionaire genius, The Hulk is a super-smart scientist, Captain America is the ultimate soldier. These are characters that are alive and well in our culture, and with The Avengers, they get just a little boost that makes them superhuman. This is what is active and alive in our cultural unconscious and is speaking to the problems of our society including poverty, modern warfare, the development of the digital age and the collapse of large social structures. We have to have hope and inspiration in regards to the problems we face now. I believe that The Avengers are doing a stellar job of giving us a template for this hope and inspiration.

INTENT: Did you learn or realize anything new about your own definition of hero while designing this course?

ALANNA: Actually, it was the other way around. It was my own discovery of the importance of the journey of the hero and personal mythology that made me want to write a course to show people how to find this for themselves. In my more than decade plus years of taking people through the mythology in the context of eastern spirituality and yoga, I was seeing for myself how important it was for people to discover and understand that the hero they were hearing stories about did not exist outside of themselves. The hero’s path, ultimately, is an internal path and we use the stories of our heroes as templates to discover our own internal journey. This is how we find hope, inspiration and connection when it otherwise becomes unavailable in our relationships, careers, health… you name it. Give people the tools and techniques to reignite their own internal power, to rediscover their own internal hero, and they can make it through any challenge. They become heroes themselves. I have seen this time and time again not only in my work with thousands of students, but within myself. How could I not share these powerful insights with others? This is why I wrote the eCourse for Intent, and why I’m leading this as a live workshop at Esalen in January of 2014. Because, it’s a simple process, and once you know how to find your heroic journey, you can do it time and time again, no matter what struggle you face.

INTENT: What should our followers and those who purchase the course expect to gain from taking it? What should be their goal before starting the course?

ALANNA: This work is designed to give you the tools to face your greatest challenges and overcome your greatest fears in order to live the life you imagined. It’s not small stuff. I encourage those who purchase the course to think big and see where their journey takes them.


Overcome your own deepest fears and emerge as the hero of our own story. Joseph Campbell asked people to “follow their bliss.” I’m showing you how. Join Alanna at the gorgeous Esalen retreat center on the Coast of California with breath taking hot tubs, locally grown food and Kaivalya Method Yoga.

Click here to purchase your own “Following Bliss: A Modern Mystic’s Guide to the Hero’s Journey” course. 

How to Survive the Dark Night of the Soul

It’s happened to all of us at some point in our lives. The storm hits. The light goes out and we can no longer see the forest for the trees. Friends try to cheer us up, and tell us to look at the bright side, but we can’t see it. It’s gone. We feel locked in darkness and that’s when it happens: we lose hope.

Or, do we?

If we take an objective, honest look back at those moments in our lives, we see that we got through them. And, while we may not have known at the time how we could possibly overcome the great obstacle, we did. If you’re reading this right now, it’s proof that somehow, you’ve survived the darkest nights of your own existence and lived to tell the tale.

There was something that pulled you through. Some part of you that stepped up and took over and allowed you to navigate the darkness and realize the power of your own character. In every case, when we’ve conquered a true dark night of the soul, it was a turning point for us to round the corner of bleakness and slay our inner dragon to walk a little more fearlessly into the future.

If we’ve triumphed over a sickness or disability, we now know what we’re capable of. If we’ve survived death or loss, we now know the value of life. If we’ve pulled through a financial or domestic disaster, we know that we can carry our home on our backs. If we’ve lived through abuse or neglect, we know the power of kindness. No matter what kind of darkness our lowest point was steeped in, each one of us, in some way, has gotten through it.

But, how?

In that moment when all hope is lost and the walls come crashing down, we suddenly step up to the plate to slay the proverbial demon and ignite some deep inner fire that may not have been given any spark before. We may do this unconsciously. Life may force us into this corner, but our own soul steps up to fight our way out.

Basically, we choose life.

When we choose life, the vibrancy that may have been locked behind fear, mistrust, doubt and hopelessness is released into a force that can overcome anything. To choose life means to choose all that life deals us: the good, the bad and the ugly. Choosing life means that we embrace the bright spots and the challenges and we push nothing away. Life is gritty, sometimes painful and can even be unbearable. The darkest of moments have the potential to reveal our greatest sources of strength. It’s as Goethe said, “Mine the darkness and see by the path you leave behind.”

And, do you know what’s great? All of us already know how to do this.

Again, if you’re looking back on the hardest times of your life, there is evidence of this. You’ve already proven to yourself the power of your character, the potency of your human spirit and the fortitude of your soul’s fierce desire to express itself in the world. Boom.

Here’s the clincher.

We have to go through it. The famous line by Harvey Dent from the recent Dark Knight trilogy is, “The night is always darkest before the dawn.” As a practical metaphor, one cannot experience dawn without first experiencing the night.

This darkness unknots your soul. It releases its bondage so you can be free to move into the next phase. Without this release, we stay locked inside the labyrinth of smallness and suffering. It sounds dramatic (it often is) but this is how humans have struggled and triumphed through their dark nights of the soul since the beginning. Similar to the butterfly who must push and squeeze her way out of her cocoon to find her ultimate release, these times of despair and darkness are the moments that we can blossom more fully and better express the life force that exists within us.

And like Ariadne and her magical thread, you will always be lead back from the depths of the labyrinth. The thread that is left behind as we wander into the darkness is the thread of hope, love, and faith. We rediscover this as we slowly wind our way back out. But first, we must go in.

No, it’s not pleasant. But it’s the necessary transition for our humanness to struggle through this phase in order to realize a new level of understanding and evolution. This isn’t fancy frou frou lingo. This is practical, time tested, and just plain true. Every story in our human history shows that our mythical heroes fight and kill their dragons before actually realizing their true heroism. As Joseph Campbell states:

“…the point is not that such-and-such was done on earth; the point is that, before such-and-such could be done on earth, this other, more important primary thing had to be brought to pass within the labyrinth that we all know and visit in our dreams. The passage of the mythological hero may be over-ground, incidentally; but fundamentally it is inward–into depths where obscure resistances are overcome, and long lost, forgotten powers are revivified, to be made available for the transfiguration of the world.”

The next time the dark night is upon you, get ready. Brace yourself. Keep your eyes open. Nocturnal vision is not the strong point of our eyes or mind, but our heart and spirit can navigate just fine. Recognize that this is the inevitable transition before greatness arrives with the dawn. You can do this. And in all likelihood, you have. Believe in the power you already possess and get ready for what the dawn will reveal to you: You are the hero of your own journey.

photo by: phatman

The Man Who Rocked My World

(photo from Slice.Seriouseats.com)

This is #16 of 108 Ways to Livin the Moment. Let’s take back our lives one beautiful, funny and delicious moment at a time.

#16 of 108:  Get Off on Joseph Campbell

If you have read some of writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell’s wisdom…

…you might agree his words are like a sip of 2005 Philip Togni Cabernet…

…or a bite of the Sonny Boy (Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Salami, Gaeta Olives) at Pizzaria Bianco (#1 Pizza in USA…located in Phoenix).

Just read a few of Campbell’s nuggets and watch your inner wisdom seeker jump for joy:

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are!”


“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”


“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.”


“If you are falling…dive!”


“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”


Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I stumbled upon a fact from the sage’s history…

Joseph Campbell once attended a Grateful Dead concert!! (see photo of Campbell meeting the Dead after the show)

(photo from sirbacon.org)


Yes it’s true. February 1985.

Said Campbell of the experience, “The Deadheads are doing the dance of life and this I would say, is the answer to the atom bomb.”


“When you see a room with 8000 young people for five hours going through it to the beat of these boys … The genius of these musicians- these three guitars and two wild drummers in the back…when you see 8000 kids all going up in the air together… Listen, this is powerful stuff !”


“And when the great beam of light would go over the crowd you’d see these marvelous young faces in sheer rapture- for five hours! Packed together like sardines! Eight thousand of them ! Then there was an opening in the back with a series of panel windows and you look out and there’s a whole bunch in another hall, dancing crazy. This is a wonderful fervent loss of self in the larger self of a homogeneous community. This is what it is all about!”‘


“It reminded me of Russian Easter. Down in New York we have a big Russian Cathedral. You go there on Russian Easter at midnight and you hear Kristos anesti ! Christ is Risen ! Christ is Risen! When I was in Mexico City at the Cathedral of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, there it was again. In India, in Puri, at the temple of the Jagannath…the same damn thing again.”


“It doesn’t matter what the name of the God is, or whether its a rock group or a clergy. It’s somehow hitting that chord of realization of the unity of God in you all, that’s a terrific thing and it just blows the rest away.”


And there you have it…

Something to remember…”The unity of God in you all”… sounds like spiritual hogwash…

…but mix in Joseph Campbell and the Grateful Dead and tell me you are not ready to go hug your kids and tell your wife you love her and “Carpe the freakin hell out of this Diem!”

The Hero’s Journey: Answering The Call To Adventure

“We must be willing to get rid of the life that we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Josepeh Campbell

“Finding Joe” is a documentary that interviews visionaries from a wide variety of fields on how Joseph Campbell’s teachings on 'following your bliss' and 'The Hero’s Journey' can be applied to our everyday life, including our challenges and personal dragons.

While most inspirational documentaries focus on how good life can be if you get everything you want; “Finding Joe” stands out because it interviews real life people ranging from Deepak Chopra, Tony Hawk, to Rashida Jones about how their struggles, failures, and personal dragons were necessary to help them develop the capabilities to truly follow their bliss.

According to the film, everybody receives some sort of mysterious call to adventure or to awaken to a life previously unknown. Not everybody answers this call. However, those that do and then choose to act on this call embark on what Campbell and the film describe as 'The Hero’s Journey.'

As the documentary portrays in vivid detail from popular movies, enactments of classic tales by a group of sweet and motley group of kids, and first hand accounts from real people 'The Hero’s Journey' is filled with a series of tests, trials, or ordeals a person must go through to begin and complete a transformation. Often a person will fail one or more of these tests. But, if the hero remains steadfast and open to unexpected help along the way, he or she will emerge victorious.

For example, Campbell summarizes this process in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” when he writes,

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

I had the chance to interview the filmmaker for "Finding Joe", Patrick Solomon, and asked him what sort of dragons he faced in his personal journey. His answer was very insightful and eye-opening:

“On my own personal journey, there are a lot of challenges in making a movie. I went down this road when I first started this movie. And I shot a bunch of things. I went to Bali. I went to Jerusalem. I shot just a ton of film and interviewed a bunch of people and when I started to put that together it wasn’t working.

So, at some point, I had to admit that this wasn’t going to work and we got to take another path. But, that to me was a dragon. That was months and months of work and thousands and thousands of dollars that I kind of had to let go of and come to grips with the truth that that wasn’t going to work. And, that was a wrestling match and that took months to come to the point of saying ‘okay man this isn’t going to work, you gotta let that go.' And, I’m glad I did because the movie would be quite different had I hung onto that.”

“Finding Joe” started playing in theaters on the West Coast this past weekend. For more information on where it is playing, please visit the film’s Web site at http://www.findingjoethemovie.com/.

Finding Joe is truly a transformational film that will help anyone who is wrestling with a personal dragon right now, but knows in their heart that they are on path. Or as Joseph Campbell said,

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

Open Your Heart

"And where we had thought to be all alone, we shall be with all the world."    Joseph Campbell

When we have a problem, we usually need to knock on a few doors to find a solution. A workplace problem might send us knocking on several doors: A career counselor, a self-help book, a new job, or an attitude adjustment.  For physical ailments there are different doors: doctors, herbalists, physical therapists, acupuncturists and so forth.  But every so often, we come across a problem that seems to have no apparent solution—no matter how many places or times we knock. 

A few months ago, I developed a painful physical condition.  Not life threatening, but certainly uncomfortable.  Some days I don’t notice it at all.  But there are days when it keeps me up at night—all night.  On those nights, when I can’t sleep or make it go away, I experience suffering.

Buddhism tells us that suffering is a universal condition.  And so is joy.  When we feel joyful, we en-joy it.  But we have a very different reaction to suffering.  When it appears, we start knocking on doors. 

For my pain, I knocked on all the typical doors—I visited several alternative medical practitioners and my family doctor.  I talked about it with my life coach.  I trolled the Internet—seeking kindred spirits in obscure chat rooms and answers by doctors and quacks alike.   But there was no apparent cause and no singular solution. 

A couple of nights ago, it returned.  I got in the shower. I applied a lotion.  I felt as though I were running down a corridor lined with doors, furiously trying every handle, and hoping just one would open.  And then I saw that there was one door open. It had been open all along.

I got on my meditation cushion and folded my legs.  Then I started to breathe mindfully.  The painful sensations didn’t go away but my reactions to them did.  With each inhale, I relaxed.  With each exhale, I created some distance from my pain.  After about fifteen minutes, I could calmly observe the painful sensations in my body.  They seemed smaller.  After half an hour, I was ready to go to sleep.  The pain was there, but alongside it was my total acceptance. I could endure the pain until it passed.

Learning to accept suffering is absolutely foreign in our western culture.  We want to fix pain.  And if we can’t make it go away, we want a diagnosis—an affirmation of our suffering. But in the east, suffering is everywhere and in full view.  Even a few days in India forces me to accept that suffering just is.  It just is.

This afternoon, I received an email message from a friend.  Her second born had been diagnosed with brain damage and a hole in her heart shortly after birth.  I can only imagine how many doors she and her husband knocked on in search of a cure.  There were none to be found.  But there was one door open.  They sat with their daughter through endless days and nights of pain, sleeplessness and discomfort.  They learned to bear witness to their daughter’s suffering. They offered love in return.  Three years later, their child has completely healed herself.  She was recently given a clean bill of health.  And she is developmentally on track with her peers.  There was enormous suffering.  And then one day, it was over.

Another friend recently described the emotional distance that she and her husband had to endure—for four years of their marriage—before one day, a shaft of light opened up in their relationship, enabling them to come together in a new way and love each other again. 

We knock on so many doors, for so many problems–our child isn’t sleeping, our partner is distant, our boss is a tyrant.  But when we walk through the one door that is always open, we give ourselves a gift.  We reduce our suffering when we accept it.  But the real gift is that acceptance brings compassion.  Some of us suffer from a hole in the heart, others from a broken heart—but none of us is spared.  When we sit with our suffering, it transforms us—it takes us out of the corridor of self and into the temple of humanity. 

In our new "green" world, we so often talk about being interconnected.  Recycling is one way to feel part of something larger.  But as I’m learning, an even more powerful path to experiencing one-ness is to sit with our joy, and our suffering, and to allow it to open our hearts.

[To learn more about me, my path or to read my other work, visit Labor of Love.]

Close Your Ears & Dream On!

“Close your ears to all adverse suggestions. Never mind if people call you a fool and a dreamer. Dream on.” ~ Wallace D. Wattles from The Science of Being Great

Did you know the guy who invented the radio (Marconi) was thrown into an insane asylum when he told his “friends” that he could harness sound and transmit it from one place to another without anything in between. They thought he was nuts.

(tangent: It IS kind of nutty when you think about it! You can listen to a radio station while driving your car or talk to your friends on a little piece of plastic with NOTHING (visible, anyway) there.)

Now, imagine if the people we admire so much decided they’d only do what the people around them thought was reasonable/possible/appropriate. Our world would be kinda boring. We owe all the great advances of our civilization to people who were brave enough to close their ears to all adverse suggestions, eh?!?

As Harry Truman says: “How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he had taken a poll in the land of Israel? What would have happened to the Reformation if Martin Luther had taken a poll? It isn’t polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It’s right and wrong and leadership.”

George Bernard Shaw says it beautifully as well: “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

So how about you? You need to close your ears a bit (a lot?) more?!?



Everyone Can Become Great

“It is within the power of every man to become great.” ~ Wallace D. Wattles from The Science of Being Great

Do you think you can become great? Coupla things on that: 1) EVERYONE can become great; and, 2) As per Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Too often we look at those we admire and think it must have been their destiny to achieve greatness. Something in their genes or astrological chart or just sheer luck.

Huh? That’s just a REALLY weak excuse for us failing to step up to our own greatness.

As Wattles says, ““It is within the power of every man to become great.”

And the great Paulo Coelho echoes that when he says, “I learned the most important lesson of my life: that the extraordinary is not the birthright of a chosen and privileged few, but of all people, even the humblest. That is my one certainty: we are all the manifestation of the divinity of God.”


I hope you already know that and I hope you have enough strength to work on yourself till you manifest it and most fully give yourself to the world. Why? Well, we need it. But, more importantly, YOU need it! As Abraham Maslow states: “If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.”

You might be thinking, “Oh, but me? I can’t possibly be great. You should have seen how I was raised.” Or, “Not for me. I’m in prison.” Or, “Me? blah blah blah blah boring story blah.”

Whatever. You only need to look at so many people like Oprah or Malcolm X or 50 Cent (OMG. Former thug drug dealer turned artist turned future billionaire simply rockin’ his greatness!) to anyone else you wanna pick who had way worse circumstances than you and turned it around.

Of course, the STATISTICS will tell you that you won’t do it. But who gives a *%$# about statistics? If one in a million make it, those are great odds. How many of you are there? Just do it. 🙂

So, I’ll pick up my megaphone one more time: “IT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER TO BECOME GREAT!!!”

*stops yelling and sets the megaphone down* 🙂


Being Helped by Hidden Hands

Moyers: “Do you ever have this sense when you are following your bliss, as I have at moments, of being helped by hidden hands?”

Campbell: “All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time–namely, that 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 to be living is the one you are living. When you see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ~ Joseph Campbell from The Power of Myth

Amen. How about some (mountaineer) W.H. Murray and (transcendentalist) Thoreau mojo on this idea that when we really follow our bliss, magical things begin to happen?!?

W.H. Murray: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!””

Thoreau: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary: new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or old laws will be expanded and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with license of a higher order of beings.”

(So: What’s your bliss? And what’re you waiting for? I say: “Go for it!” And I echo Grandpa Joe who says: “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid.” 🙂


Do You Think I Can Do That?

“When I taught in a boy’s 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.” ~ Joseph Campbell fromThe Power of Myth
Are you asking people around you whether or not you can chase a big dream or follow your heart? First, be careful with that. Few people will give as wise advice as Campbell. Most will tell us to be “reasonable” or fire us up with a false confidence that we can do it and see results NOW!!! (Um, not so much.)
Patience! Diligence! Persistence! Then? Well, yah. Go for it! As my Vipassana teacher, S.N. Goenka says, “Work diligently. Diligently. Work patiently and persistently. Patiently and persistently. And you’re bound to be successful. Bound to be successful.”
How about Epictetus, the former slave and renowned Roman Stoic Philosopher: “If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”
How about Malcolm Gladwell in his new book, Outliers. (Great, fun read, btw. Finished it in one 5 1/2 hour sitting recently.) He looked at the world’s greatest “outliers”–those peeps at the edge of the bell curve (really far from the norm/mean). One thing he found that separated ALL of the truly GREATs: they’d put in about 10 years or 10,000 hours of diligent work/practice before they became outliers.
Did you know the Beatles played 8 hours a day, 7 days a week at a strip club in Germany and logged in more live shows in a brief couple years than most bands EVER play? They *totally* transformed their mojo through constant practice and then landed in the US. Rock stars. But no one talks about how HARD they worked.
How about Bill Gates? Did you know when he was in high school he’d SNEAK out of bed to go to the University library where he programmed from 3-6am. His mom wondered why he was waking up so tired in the morning. The world experienced the fruits of his genius around a decade later when the computer started going mainstream.
How about violinists? Did you know one of the main reasons why someone is either a concert violinist performing solos vs. a less prominent (yet professional) violinist vs. a violin teacher vs. an amateur is how many hours they’ve committed to their practice? Yep. (Magic #? 10,000 hours of *committed*, diligent practice time for the soloist.)
Part two of this Big Idea: You’ve gotta LOVE what you do to put in that much effort. Hence, the whole “follow your bliss” thing. There’s NO way you’re gonna log in that many hours consciously striving to improve your craft doing something you hate. Not gonna happen. It’s also not gonna happen if you’re doing it simply for the external rewards. At some point, you’re gonna get burned out and walk away unless it’s what *really* sets your heart on fire.
So, what do you love doing SO much, you’d joyfully put in 10,000 hours and even PAY to be able to do it?!?
(For me, btw, it’s reading and writing and living and sharing these truths! 🙂

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