It takes courage
To do what you want
Other people
Have a lot of plans for you.

– Joseph Campbell

The following is an excerpt from The Practice of Happiness, a book by John Kehoe.

Yes I am a husband, a son, a brother, a writer, and a tax-paying citizen of Canada, and each of these roles has responsibilities and duties, but first and foremost I am me. And this role I will honour above all else. For if I don’t honour myself, my vision first, by what compass can I chart my life? To what allegiance can I swear other than to my own inner calling? We all have within us hundreds of possible destinies. Not thousands or an unlimited number of destinies. Not all destinies are ours to live and explore, but neither is there just one. Life gives you a choice. Depending upon your circumstances, your actions, and choices, numerous opportunities will be made available to you.

41667013 - hiker man choose between to directions at the mountainTo discover your destiny you must discover first what pleases you, where your heart leaps for joy. This is your first clue. Follow your instincts – these are in you for a reason. They are signposts to an exciting and fulfilling life. Choose a destiny that feels appropriate to you and follow it wherever it leads. There is a journey and an adventure ahead.

I am speaking now to the twenty-year-old who is beginning his or her life and does not know which way to go – trust your instinct. I speak also to the forty-year-old who is at a midpoint of his life – have courage; there are destinies awaiting you if you heed the call. Listen to the voice within – it is calling you. I speak also to the sixty-year-old who has one last chance to grow old disgracefully. I love that expression. It has spirit in it.

I read a book many years ago (the title I forget) about a woman who leaves her husband when she is in her early sixties. It was a true story, chronicling how she made the decision, the horror of the children, all middle-aged, as they tried to talk her out of her foolishness, her uncertainty as she left with only the clothes she could carry in one suitcase. She took only a few thousand dollars, leaving the house, the investments, all the valuables with her husband. The book told the story of her adventures both good and bad, including her lovers. It ended with her in Italy, married to a lusty farmer and living with him in his vineyard.

She did not heed her friends’ advice that life was over, and so further destinies awaited her. She had the courage to leave a chronically complaining husband and a marriage that was barren, to trust the call within. That’s growing old disgracefully.

There is a forgotten promised
land somewhere here, no, not a
land, not promised, not even
really forgotten, but something
calling to you.

– Amos Oz

When I was 21 (that’s 30 years ago) I was riding the streetcar to work reading Henry Miller for the first time. I think it was Sexus. I was a claims examiner at Allstate Insurance. It wasn’t a particularly exciting job, but it was okay, and besides, you have to do something with your life.

Each day I took the Queen Street streetcar and got off at Bay Street. This particular morning I was totally immersed in Miller’s writing – his writing style, his life as an ar