“Why don’t people’s hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?” the boy asked the alchemist. “Because that’s what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don’t like to suffer.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Find your self. Return home. Or as Coelho famously scribes, “follow [your] dreams.” After the miles I have proverbially travelled I am still bewildered that up until a couple of weeks ago I had never read The Alchemist. I can’t ever recall being more than abstractedly familiar with this classic. I appear to be in the minority – at least in certain circles. Even the young cashier clerk at one of the largest national bookstore chains in Canada upon seeing my purchase proudly proclaimed he reads it several times a year! Wow – I was filled with anticipation of what awaited me.
As the title of this blog suggests, I encourage you to read it for the first time, or if you have not read it for a while, read it again. Why you may ask?
We question our choices and ourselves continually. Some of us also do it for others – that is called judgement – another topic for sure – not unfamiliar in this space. We hesitate in making those big decisions. We ponder the efficacy of a possible directional change in our life. We give pause to our choice of a potential life partner or to our current one. We have ambitions for that dream job but settle for something inferior or below our capabilities because after all, we have to put food on the table etc.
“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” – from The Alchemist
This is an illuminating line. At first glance one might presume this to be a selfish statement or goal in life. But I think it is entirely the opposite. I believe that realizing one’s destiny is demonstrating our ultimate strength, self-awareness, aptitude and mission in life, not selfishly, but for all those encircling our sphere in life. Think about it. If we are engaged in the ultimate quest for achieving our destiny, our loved ones, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and co-workers, heck even the person sitting beside us on the subway are all benefiting from our purpose in life. And for believers in a higher source or power, God, whatever that may be, what could be a greater calling than completely fulfilling that journey as it has been written? Coelho uses the Arabic, maktub.
A friend recently told me that if she were to die today, she would be at peace with that fate. At the time, her bold statement troubled and disturbed me feeling that she had so much more to yet realize in her beautiful life – and then I came across the following passage in The Alchemist:
“And, as the camel driver had said, to die tomorrow was no worse than dying on any other day. Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world.”
If anyone has been with a loved one as they ceased to breathe, to live, you know what that is like. It is almost indescribable – all those emotions, sorrow, but it is the same fate that awaits us all. How will we do it? What will it look like? But it will come. It will be that one day to “mark our departure.”
And let’s end here with love and the heart. We have all had heartbreak haven’t we? And not just from romantic relationships: Heartbreak from professional disappointment; Heartbreak from family anguish; And yes, heartbreak from a failed romance. It is all heartbreak. But what of it? What does a fulfilled heart and love mean?
“Because it is not love to be static like the desert, nor it is love to roam the world like the wind. And it’s not love to see everything from a distance … Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World … It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse.” – The Alchemist
Go buy the book and read about the Soul of the World.