Do you struggle, like me, with life, death? The meaning of it all? Your personal purpose?
“My general formula for my students is ‘follow your bliss’,” myth expert Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth. “Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
I really enjoy Campbell’s discussions on myth, find comfort in the fact that the birth of Christ is a repeating creation story in many cultures, but geez. I’ve been searching for my bliss for 58 years now! I don’t think I’d be afraid to follow it, if only I could pin it down. Am I a failure? Or a lifelong seeker? I’m going with the latter.
Anyway, in my ongoing quest for bliss, meaning and purpose, I often come across quotes that soothe, like hot lemon ginger tea with honey in the evening. And who doesn’t enjoy being calmed from time to time? So, I thought I’d share. A few come from a book my husband B gave me for Valentine’s Day, The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith. Smith shares stories from the ages; you get massive exposure to great historical players and events in an easy-to-read, entertaining format.
So, some power quotes for you:
“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.” Madeleine L’Engle, author
“No matter what the situation may be, the right course of action is always compassion and love.” Neil Strauss, author
“It’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You are serving. You are in service to these stories and these characters.” Mahershala Ali, accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight. I know Mahershala is talking about playing a role in a major motion picture, one which also won Best Picture in that crazy Oscar mess with La La Land – probably the biggest awards show faux pas ever! – yet these words remind us that we all play a role, every day, in a bigger thing called humanity. “It’s not about you.” Takes some pressure off, huh?
“I feel nothing can befall me in life, – no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, – my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, – all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Nature. Emerson reminds us, that no problem is so big that a simple walk in nature cannot fix, if one remains open.
“We felt triumph and celebration. We felt that things change for the good and nothing is congealed forever. That was a warming, transcendental, spiritual experience. Meaning and purpose and mission were beyond exact words: meaning was the feeling, the song, the moment of overwhelming spiritual fulfillment. We were experiencing what (Rabbi Abraham Joshua) Heschel called the meaning beyond mystery.” Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, writing to Life magazine on how he felt as he sang behind Martin Luther King Jr while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on that historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.
“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold – brothers who know now they are truly brothers.” Archibald MacLeish, poet, writing for the New York Times December 25, 1968, the day after Earthrise was taken from Apollo 8. A reminder that we’re in all in this together.
“I for one am not going to weaken by either feeling sorry for myself or letting (the rotten economy) control my actions. Your life is not a failure unless you think so. There is always going to be better and worse situations and we can only do the best we can. And the rest is attitude.” Hugh, my late husband, building me back up after some investment losses.
“Good people have a habit of meeting good people.” Gentleman in a bar in Palm Springs, California, January 1982. A reminder to continuously aim for goodness?
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go. Love with no place to go.” Jamie Anderson, allmylooseends.com
“Just as knowledge builds the mind and exercise strengthens the body, grief uniquely ennobles our spirit.” Glen Pearson, lfpress.com
“Everybody’s born knowing how to die.” Jessica to her mom Plum Johnson in Johnson’s memoir They Left Us Everything.
“I know the world is round. Straight up, at it’s centre, the sky is a boundless blue, then it stretches as it falls away, for 360 degrees around me, into white cloud, or white glacier, or white snow. I spin around to take it all in. The whole time I struggled, a small ant way down there under that stinky sky, hollering “why” over and over, this pure version was always waiting. To show me truth. To show me beauty. We were meant to be reunited here. Me and the blue sky.” That’s me, standing at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in my memoir Long Climb Back. This is a reminder that no matter how dark the clouds become – for reals, or just in your head – blue sky is constant. Which leads us to this fine quote . . .
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Great article, Rita. Here’s a thought – what if we are living our bliss, and just don’t acknowledge it, or realize it? Looking back, I can see many blissful times in my life. At the time, I felt happy with life and living. In retrospect, maybe that was my bliss? What if this is me, following my bliss? Or you, following yours – with a loving family, beautiful grandchildren, an appreciation of nature and beauty… Just a thought.
Thank you so much for this insight BRENDA! So well written and thought-out. And quite likely so true. I love this notion! Phew! I’m following my bliss.
What a gift to see more than black and white! You have that gift Rita.Me…not so much!
Stay open Glenda! You never know . . .
Rita, love the para regarding Greif…grief is love with no place to go,,never thought about it in that sense…love your writings.
Thx Linda! That is a wonderful quote isn’t it? Turn grief into a positive.