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

  — Joseph Campbell

It is the tale of the hero’s quest — following one’s bliss.  It is a journey to the very soul of the traveler that leads us to discover what lies within ourselves as we explore what lies without.  It is the sort of story that myths are made of, and it is no secret that I love a good myth probably more than the average person.  Today is Joseph Campbell’s birthday; and anyone who cares to explore the seemingly mundane existence we have been handed and discover what lies beneath the surface or beyond the boundaries we draw to define our world should get to know Joseph Campbell.  He holds up the mirror and asks us to see the hero or the heroine who looks back at us.  He asks us to journey beyond the walls and deep into the recesses of our souls and to discover a life of mythical proportion — a life that belongs to us.

Before I knew that today was Campbell’s birthday, I followed my bliss as I often do on an early-morning walk through the park near my home.  I love the early morning, the time before the noises of human life drown out the whispers of the dawn and the singing of the birds that herald its arrival.  The sky was filled with clouds this morning, and all of the sunrise was a study in black and white, in shadow and light, in monochromatic and colorless mist.  I felt it swirl all around me and hem me in as I walked the familiar path near the creek.  Suddenly, something caught my eye and drew it upward.  There, in the middle of the sky, a circular opening suddenly appeared.

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I felt myself grow weightless as my feet left the ground and hovered several inches above the Spring mud.  Soon I was soaring through the gray and toward the blue patch of sky in the center of the cloud wall.  A door had opened, and I rediscovered the light and the color that seemed lost in the morning mist.

As I returned to Earth, another wonder caught my eye.  A deep hollow in the center of the trunk of an old, worn tree drew me in.

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.”
       — Joseph Campbell

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I quickly snapped it for my “who lives here?” collection; and as I drew closer it seemed to open wide and invite me to explore.  I climbed over the lip of the cavern and descended into the dark of the tree trunk.  A tunnel ran to the ground below and opened into a giant tap root that penetrated deep beneath the surface of the earth.  The farther I walked, the wider it opened; and soon I could see a faint glow around a bend in the tunnel.  When I turned the corner, I found myself in a magnificent cavern, its walls lined with glowing crystals of every color.  There was a steady hum and a rhythmic pulsing that seemed to make the walls breathe — first in and then out — in sync with my own breathing.  As the walls pulsed in and out, I suddenly knew that I had made my way to the center of my own heart.  The hum of my blood coursing through the cavern made me warm and comfortable, and the light that emanated from the crystals all around showed me once again that I am made of more than flesh and blood.

I closed my eyes and let my own heart beat as it enfolded my being; and when I opened them, I had returned to my spot by the stream.  In a matter of minutes, I had journeyed beyond the walls that encased me and far into the depths of my own being.  On a misty Spring morning, in a very familiar place in the very real world where I live out my days, I was reconnected once again with the myth that is my own existence.  Some people think that myths are simply the fantastic meanderings of our imaginations; but I learned again today that it is the myth that is our truest story and that the things that seem most fantastic often are the most real.

As the sky opened wider above me, I opened my heart to the day — a day of mythological proportion, filled with the magic and wonder of being human and being truly alive.