“Follow your bliss. Doors will open and guides will appear.” Remember Joseph Campbell saying that? Everyone I knew was much younger then and many applied it to choosing careers or life partners or identifying their passions.
Recently a 20-something granddaughter and I had a long conversation about the choices she has and how she will make them. She spoke of her job that she loves, the co-workers who have become real friends, her pride in the quality of the product. It provides well for her. Seemingly perfect, except she knows the job now and the challenge is no longer there. Should she try something else?
I thought of my father’s answer when I asked him what he thought I should major in. First he said, “Take pre-med. Can’t hurt. Might help.” The following year, when I got a D in a five-hour chemistry class, he said, “Do what you love. The money will follow.” I majored in psychology and have been glad ever since. Worked in the psych department at University of Oregon, taught at Sarah Dix Hamlin School in San Francisco, loved bringing up four sons while I held a copy of Gesell and Ilg (child development resource) in the other hand, led troubled tutorial students to success, wrote some books, shared my enthusiasm for writing in Saturday workshops. Psych helped.
Here in Spring Lake Village, I had lunch last week with a new friend and we told bits of our life stories. She explained that yes, she, too, had taught school, but tired of controlling restless adolescents. Quilting calmed and refreshed her. Loving to quilt, she shared her passion in Adult Education classes. So rewarding to be teaching students who wanted to learn! But frequently she found she needed something that she’d left at home. And her students had the same frustrating experience. So she found a storefront, opened a quilting store, taught classes there and whenever she or a student needed something, they could find it on the store shelves. She loved her quilting career.
She no longer has the store, but continues to exhibit her quilts in art shows. I asked her if she had made any money when she had owned the store and taught. She shrugged a little and smiled, “Not a lot, but enough.”
That’s it! Enough! She had followed her bliss and look what happened.
Saturday afternoon three of us senior residents drove over to see a toy train set up in a house. The “engineer” has a complex arrangement in the garage. Historically correct mines and warehouses, a church, a hardware store, an Out West neighborhood. Not only in the garage, but in the dining room as well. In the kitchen, looking for a water glass, I opened a cupboard and found it full of small buildings not quite ready to be set out along the tracks. I asked the engineer’s wife, “You two live at Spring Lake Village, don’t you? Who lives here?”
She explained that no one lives there. Sometimes family members come stay over, but the house if for the trains. “My husband used the second bedroom at Spring Lake Village to set up this section,” indicating a 12 foot long, waist-high display of buildings, mountains and tracks, “but then ran out of space.” She went on, “This is our solution. Real estate is not a bad investment and trains are Bill’s passion. This gets him up in the mornings. He’s 91 now and still has a boy’s love for toy trains.”
I like these reminders that we almost always have choices. At any time during our lives, some way, some how, we can follow our bliss.