Paulo Coelho writes about the idea of a personal legend. A personal legend, as he defines it, is God’s blessing, it is the path God chose for you on Earth. If you are doing something that fills you with enthusiasm, then you are following your personal legend.
Joseph Campbell writes about a similar concept which he calls following your bliss. He describes the concept as:
…namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
The question I have to ask and still ask is how do you know you are following your bliss or your personal legend? If I go with Campbell’s description then I must be following my bliss now as my life is filled with magic. When I relax, when I open myself to be receptive, the things I need appear. When one door closes, another one opens up for me almost immediately. Yet if you were to ask me what my bliss or personal legend is, I couldn’t tell you.
Maybe I’m looking at the situation the wrong way. I’m looking at personal legend to be defined by what a person does, by his or her title. We tend to define people by what they do. Until recently, I used to fight the idea of being labeled by what I do. I feel like I am so much more than what I do for a living. However, try to describe that to people and they look at you with a blank face. When people ask me what I do, I used to try to avoid the answer by saying that I shake hands and kiss babies for a living. This gets a good chuckle, but then they wait around for me to answer, and then I am forced to label myself, to put myself in a neat little box. Ruth was writing the family Christmas newsletter last night. She asked me what my job title is. My latest incarnation of a job title is peak performance training consultant. Is that what you are when you do Ascent, she asked. No, for Ascent I am an adventure coach. Your job title changes all the time, she said. Yes, it changes to suit the situation.
While I haven’t been able to uncover a sure fire way to find my personal legend, I have invented a way to test if something is my personal legend. And that is to simply ask, “Is that what I would want written on my tombstone?” Does peak performance training consultant past the test? NO. Clay Lowe, the peak performance training consultant, died today. That sounds like shit to my ears.
Kierkegaard said: “Once you label me, you negate me.” Yet we have an unquenchable desire to label people. And if I’m honest with myself, then I would say that the source of my search is the desire to find a label – a label to be written on my epitaph.