Joseph Campbell was perhaps the most celebrated and beloved cosmic Pez dispenser of the wisdom and meaning of myths in every culture, religion and philosophy on this little planet of ours. Not only was he the author of a myriad of liberating books such as The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he was George Lucas’s consultant for the original Star Wars Trilogy. His talks with Bill Moyers on PBS are the stuff of legends, (literally).
In Reflections on The Art of Living he talks of leaving the university where he was studying Celtic Romance. He had taken all the classes he needed for a PHD but before he wrote his dissertation, he began wandering through Europe where his real education began. He discovered James Joyce, Picasso, the 1927 crew of writers and artists in Paris . He realized that when getting a degree, you are not learning but doing what you are told to get the paper. He didn’t think he could go back into that bottle, so he walked away from getting his PHD and spent five years in the Depression up in Woodstock reading books. Then he drove out to California and a friend of his drove with him to Carmel and introduced him to John Stienbeck, who got him a place to stay. Joseph became involved with the characters in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and he was the impetus for the big party in that book. His wanderings led him to his understanding that, “as Schopenhauer says when you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect. So, I have a theory that if you are on your own path things are going to come to you. Since it’s your own path, and not one has ever been on it before, there’s no precedent, so everything that happens is a surprise and is timely.”
Essentially he advises us to leave the wasteland of our own stagnation and fears, forget what other people think of us and follow our bliss to our true center where the treasure lies and amidst those jewels, peace itself.