“Freedom lies in being bold.” ~ Robert Frost
Years ago, the great American mythologist Joseph Campbell told a powerful story to Bill Moyers while filming the PBS documentary, The Power of Myth.
Campbell: Remember the last line [of Babbitt]? “I have never done the thing that I wanted to in all my life.” That is a man who never followed his bliss. Well, I actually heard that line when I was teaching at Sarah Lawrence.
Before I was married, I used to eat out in the restaurants of town for my lunch and dinners. Thursday night was the maid’s night off in Bronxville, so that many of the families were out in restaurants. One fine evening, I was in my favorite restaurant there, and at the next table there was a father, a mother, and a scrawny boy about twelve years old.
The father said to the boy, “Drink your tomato juice.”
And the boy said, “I don’t want to.”
Then the father, with a louder voice, said, “Drink your tomato juice.”
And the mother said, “Don’t make him do what he doesn’t want to do.”
The father looked at her and said, “He can’t go through life doing what he wants to do. If he only does what he wants to do, he’ll be dead. Look at me. I’ve never done a thing I wanted to in all my life.”
And I thought, “There’s Babbitt incarnate.”
That’s the man who never followed his bliss. You may have a success in life, but then just think of it—what kind of life was it? What good was it—you’ve never done the thing you wanted to do in all your life.
I always tell my students, go where your body and soul want to go. When you have the feeling, then stay with it, and don’t let anyone throw you off.
Hemingway wrote: “To calmly watch the bull come is the most necessary and primarily difficult thing in bullfighting.” And so too with true independence. You listen, calmly, to the incredibly loud, fearful voice of society and then... you ignore it and move in your direction. You do what you really want to do with your one wild and precious life.
Don’t hypnotically follow society’s script. Don’t get lost in a delusional hero story. Be bold and uniquely you.
That is true independence. That is freedom.
P.S. Here’s a link to a short Q&A I recently did called “Short Life Lessons.” My answers may surprise you.
Random information for July
* Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on a writing desk that could fit over one's lap. This device was referred to at the time as a "laptop."
* Steven Spielberg signed a major deal with Netflix. He once said the streaming platform’s films, which will now include his own, should not be eligible for Oscars.
* Major League Baseball had its 2 millionth run. The first recorded run was on April 22, 1876, in a game between the Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves) and the Philadelphia Athletics (RIP).
* Twitter rolled out a subscription service. Available first in Australia and Canada, then India, Twitter Blue will enable paying users to undo incorrect or unwise tweets within 30 seconds of posting.
* Tesla has applied for new trademarks in the food industry, presumably to realize its CEO’s vision of a 1950s-style diner, only with Superchargers.
* The National Geographic Society is changing the world map. The 130-year-old exploration and education non-profit marked World Oceans Day on Tuesday by declaring that the waters around Antarctica will now be known as the Southern Ocean — the planet’s fifth ocean.
* ByteDance made $34.3 billion in 2020. Total revenue surged 111% at TikTok’s parent company last year, while gross profits jumped 93% to $19 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.
* Lamborghinis are almost sold out for 2021. Thanks in part to pandemic-related “revenge spending,” the Italian supercar brand has already sold about 10 months of its production capacity.
* Arctic ice is melting twice as fast as scientists thought. This will exacerbate global warming—and also ease cargo shipping between China and Europe.
* Salon hair cuttings are used to mop up oil spills. Cotton or nylon tubes packed with hair, known as “hair-booms,” can be placed on beaches to stop oil spills from spreading.
* Ukraine’s new soccer jersey features a map that includes Crimea. Russia is not happy.
* There are more boats on UK canals today than in the 18th century. Rising house prices and lingering travel restrictions have created a surge in popularity for houseboats.
* WeChat users are banned from picking their noses on livestreams. The Chinese social-media platform also banned spanking and wearing underwear on one’s head.
* The web’s original source code is being auctioned as an NFT. Tim Berners-Lee plans to donate the winning bid.
* A new weight-loss aid uses magnets to keep users’ mouths closed. The reviews are not great—it’s been compared to a medieval torture device.
* An “invisible sculpture” sold for $18,300. The artwork’s Italian creator stipulated that it be displayed in a five-by-five-foot space. Oh yeah, and I’m working on a new, invisible book. I’ll let you know when it’s released.
* Balenciaga’s making stiletto Crocs. Very few will/should buy them, but the swift, brutal backlash is all part of the plan.
* A Hong Kong parking spot sold for a record $1.3 million.
* Apartments on the world’s biggest yacht start at $11.2 million. You have to be invited to buy one.
* An image of an alleged alien autopsy is being sold as an NFT. Bidding for the single frame from a 1947 film starts at $1 million.
* A YouTuber bet a physicist $10,000 he can travel faster than wind. Celebrity scientists Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson are overseeing the wager.
* Uh-oh! The Milky Way’s spin is slowing down. But it still rotates at 130 miles (210 km) per second.
Take a look
And a listen!
Think about this
“Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” ~ José Ortega y Gasset
“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.” ~ Alexander den Heijer
“We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” ~ Joseph Campbell
I value your feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org (or use the contact form).
Until next time, be amazed!
P.S. Read some excerpts from my newest book:
And here’s another review: