Medieval depiction of the Wheel of Fortune.
This morning I was re-reading a transcription of the landmark 1988 televised PBS series The Power of Myth where one of America’s leading mythologists, Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), was interviewed by Bill Moyers ~ a series that helped popularize Campbell and his well-known advice to “Follow your bliss.”
Campbell’s original message has been subject to distortion over the years, so here’s a verbatim explanation from The Power of Myth. In a discussion on sacrifice and bliss, Campbell first uttered the phrase and then Moyers followed up:
Moyers: What happens when you follow you bliss?
Campbell: You come to bliss. In the Middle Ages, a favorite image that occurs in many, many contexts is the wheel of fortune. There’s the hub of the wheel, and there is the revolving rim of the wheel. For example, if you are attached to the rim of the wheel of fortune, you will be either above, going down, or at the bottom, coming up. But if you are at the hub, you are in the same place all the time. That is the sense of the marriage vow ~ I take you in health or sickness, in wealth or poverty: going up or going down. But I take you as my center, and you are my bliss, not the wealth that you might bring me, not the social prestige, but you. That is following your bliss.
Moyers: How would you advise somebody to tap that spring of eternal life, that bliss that is right there?
Campbell: We are having experiences all the time that may on occasion render some sense of this, a little intuition of where your bliss is. Grab it. No one can tell you what it is going to be. You have to learn to recognize your own depth.