I haven’t written for a long time. I’ve been out of balance for a little while, and it’s time to come back now. Recent events have jarred me back, and I don’t want to forget where I am.
Joseph Campbell said, “The way to find out about happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.”
Teaching makes me happy. Am I making a difference? Maybe. Am I changing the world? Probably not, but who knows? At any rate, that’s not my goal, not if I’m honest about it. My goal is to teach. The act itself. My goal is moments. I’m after that look, that question, that sense of awe, that amazement, that connection. In that moment, I’m fulfilled. In that moment, all the magic tumblers of the universe have clicked into place and suddenly it all makes sense. Does the learner take anything away from that moment? Maybe she does, maybe she doesn’t. Maybe she walks away and never thinks of the moment again. But I take something away from that moment. Every time. I have to remember, because in that moment, for her and for me, life is worth living because the world is wonder-filled.
Joseph Campbell also said, ““When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”
I recently was reminded of John Horgan’s book “The End of Science.” Horgan argues that great discoveries can only be made once. Therefore, eventually all the great discoveries will be made. Various commentators have attacked Horgan’s idea, saying that there are an infinite number of great discoveries to be made, so science will never be done. Maybe. But I think the mistake Horgan makes is not in the second sentence, but in the first. We all of us are on a journey, a personal journey. The discoveries of evolution, special relativity, the origin of the universe, the nature of matter, the structure of a sand grain, are open and available to us all. We can all learn of these things, discover them for ourselves, again, for the first time. We are all discoverers.
One more from Joseph Campbell. He’s such an amazing character, and I could quote him forever and never exhaust his profound sense of the world. Here he’s talking, as it turns out of Star Wars character Darth Vader. But how many other men could he mean?
“He’s not living in terms of humanity, he’s living in terms of a system. And this is the threat to our lives. We all face it. We all operate in our society in relation to a system. Now is the system going to eat you up and relieve you of your humanity or are you going to be able to use the system to human purposes? … If the person doesn’t listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you’re going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it’s not the one the body’s interested in at all. And the world’s full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.”
I need to listen.